For Tim Bouton, preparation is the name of the game

MIDDLEBURY You can rest a little easier this summer knowing that Tim Bouton is anticipating the worst in our backyard. Bouton is senior emergency management planner for Addison County and part of the countys regional planning commission. According to Bouton, its easy to be lulled into a feeling of it cant happen here. But last weeks line of savage thunderstorms that pummeled the region demonstrated that Vermont is not immune from emergencies winter, summer, spring or fall. In addition to his responsibilities as the countys top emergency planner, Bouton has been a volunteer firefighter in New Haven for a quarter century he knows what preparedness means. The events of 9/11 showed all of us that states were not equipped to handle disasters, he said. Ironically, people are probably less prepared now than in the past; there has been an expectation of the government helping out. But we have to think of ourselves and be more self sufficient. Vermont has a long tradition of independence and of being prepared from canning ones own vegetables to having a backup woodstove for emergencies. This year, Bouton is keeping an eye on the hurricane season. Experts predict a troublesome season with the possibility of an Atlantic cyclone crossing Long Island, N.Y., and heading north, up the Connecticut River Valley. Damaging Vermont hurricanes in past years followed the valley path; the storms wreaked havoc on homes, roads and bridges with heavy rains, high winds, and floods. We are overdue for a big hurricane up here, said Bouton. While Bouton said Addison County is mostly a safe place to live, he advises residents to set aside a space or room in their homes for emergency supplies. Recalling the Hurricane Katrina disaster of 2005, its easy to point fingers and blame others for a lack of preparedness that rested, first, on the individual and local level. While government has a role to play in disasters, neighbors-helping-neighbors is the key to averting chaos. Gone is the Cold War-era of a national civil-defense program. The message is even clearer today: Americans need to rely more on each other for solutions to problems, especially in preparing for disasters. In the event of a rouge storm cell, hurricane or major ice storm in Vermont, be prepared to be on your own for a few days, Bouton advises. Include a supply of water, canned food, batteries, flashlights, clothing and blankets, Bouton said. He also noted that investing in a home power-generator is probably a good idea, too. After the infamous Ice Storm of 98 which left Canadians and Americans in the cold and dark for weeks followed by a costly effort to rebuild a damaged power grid public funds were used locally by 21 communities to purchase much needed backup power generators. Similar power units are available for homes, too. Look for home generators at area home-improvement centers; while these units are not inexpensive, they are a reliable insurance policy that will help keep you warm (or cool) and with the lights on. Little by little, Bouton added, we reduce the magnitude of a disaster by being prepared for it. The Addison County Regional Planning Commission has emergency planning literature for homeowners and businesses. For details, drop by the commission office at 14 Seminary St. during office hours or online at www.acrpc.org.

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