Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Monday, July 25, 2011

"There Will Be A Snow Storm This Winter. Please Take Cover"

Reverse 911 calls are now on societies "must have" list.  If you have never experienced receiving a reverse 911 call, don't worry, your time will come as more communities get on board, and adopt the community emergency alert program.

The program was developed by Cassidian Communications and is used to alert, and communicate people that live in a particular area via the telephone. It can be tweaked to call only those in a particular area, and it can even reconnect a 911 call that has been disconnected.  Those that have cut the cord with Verizon, can have their cell phone number associated with your street address in most communities in order to receive the warnings.

"The system can be used to notify residents in areas both large and small. During the 2010 Boston water emergency, government agencies used the system to notify a large number of Boston-area residents in particular neighborhoods to boil water before drinking.[5] During the much more contained 2004 bulldozer rampage in Granby, Colorado, authorities used Reverse 911 to notify the approximately 1,500 residents of the town to evacuate from the bulldozer's path.[6] During the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunamiSeaside and Astoria, Oregon, residents were notified by Reverse 911 and sirens to evacuate low-lying areas.[7]"---Source Wikipedia:

As with most services, and devices, there is a tendency in the beginning to over use it.  Makes sense, since that is what it is for, to be used, but let's not use such an amazing system in such a way as to turn the authorities into the Chicken Little that cried wolf.

A week, or so ago, I received a reverse 911 call from the Sturbridge Police Department alerting me to a "severe thunder storm"  heading our way from the west later in the day.  I also received two emails from a selectman alerting me to the same storm.  The storm fizzled, and what had been predicted the day before never materialized.  

The intent was genuine, and sincere, but with a severe storm falling on the heels of the June 1st tornado, folks in charge were a little bit on edge, thus the early alert.  

Most of us in the area have a television in our home, or a radio in our car.  Very few of us are without any connection to the outside world, and although we may not be viewing, or listening at all times, we are in the audience enough to know what is happening in the world.  The June 1st tornado is testament to that.  The warnings given by the media were timely, and heard by those in the path.  They heeded the warnings, and although nothing could have prevented the damage, the warnings prevented more injuries, and deaths from occurring.  Reverse 911 calls are something that technology has given us, and will save property, and lives.  It cannot be used just for the sake of saying it was used, otherwise when a storm fizzles, and a Reverse 911 call sent out many hours in advance warning of devastating consequences, does little for the credibility of the system, and those that run it, when the storm does not materialize.

I knew the storm was not going to be as it was hyped in the media the night before, the following  morning.  I have a TV, and I looked at the weather map.  Although, storms can evolve spontaneously, or worsen at a moment notice, and do, the meteorologist on TV were saying by midday that the storm would not be as bad as predicted in some areas.

Lesson learned: Save the Reverse 911 calls for when a situation is imminent, not six hours before, that is not imminent.  Remember, it's about warning of imminent danger, or a situation that requires your immediate attention, not something to schedule later in the day.  It may look cool to say, "We sent out a Reverse 911 call to warn folks...", but wait until you are sure, and then warn with enough lead time to be effective.

Reverse 911 calls are needed, but we can not afford to have them delivered each time someone feels it just might be a good idea.  Set up a policy, and a procedure, or refine the ones in place, to outline just how, and when an alert should be delivered.  We know that when a warning system goes off too often it can lead to complacency when nothing, or little happens.  Just look at what some folks do with their smoke detector when the brisket smolders.

My iPhone sends me weather alerts from Boston TV stations, as well as from the Weather Channel.  I have a radio in my car, and we own a TV.  I even get emails from the selectmen to alert me of the weather.  Although I feel I am covered, I could always use a heads up if something evolves, and slips through the cracks.  Let's just be careful of how we use it, and when.


  1. Beep, Beep, BEEEEP!Monday, July 25, 2011

    You are correct, Wally. 'Ever notice what happens in the malls and stores when alarms go off? Nothing. They are ignored. Why? Because we hear them so often that people no longer equate them with danger. When we are in the path of something really bad, we may need to hear a qualifier with the alarm. Something like, "Danger, Will Robinson. Really, Will, REALLY!"

  2. It is amazing that you mention "Danger Will Robinson...". I was thinking of the same phrase when I was writing this morning. Hmm. I think we may be on the same page here. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Beep, Beep, BEEEEP!Tuesday, July 26, 2011

    Seriously though, I appreciate the new telephone warning system. It's a good attempt, and with time we will adjust to it. Right now, there are some of us who think, that the chances of another disaster of the sort that recently hit us, are really quite slim and we just go about our business, perhaps with less caution than we should. Others of us, understandably, are quite shaken when those calls come and expect the sky to fall any minute.

    At least we have been put on notice and should know enough at that point to tune into radio and TV.

    Perhaps, if we had warning calls, that we knew would be followed by a loud siren in the event that we actually needed to quickly take cover, we would be more likely to act appropriately.

    Certainly there's a place for the phone warnings. Schools, in particular, and we as individuals, need to make informed judgment calls based on extreme weather and other dangers.

    The Will Robinsons in this town may not all have robots, but most of us have telephones... (Oh, now I want to put a face on my telephone, and "hug him and sqeeeze him and call him George.")


Anonymous comments not accepted, and will be rejected. Please use your full name. Choose "Name / URL" and enter your name, and your name ONLY. Leave "URL" blank.