AUBURN, Mass. — In a winter with no shortage of snowfall, Auburn's town departments have been continuing their focus on preparing for all kinds of emergency situations.
"Emergency management is something that doesn't just happen," Town Manager Julie Jacobson said. "You have to focus on it, you have to put the time into it and you have to put the energy into it."
In addition to having a great emergency management director in Roger Belhumeur, the town has also been able to secure funding from MEMA, or the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, and FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to help with planning efforts and equipment, Jacobson said.
"We now have a shelter plan in place, and we've been able to get emergency trailers and emergency operation centers," she said. "We've also rejuvenated its local emergency planning committee."
These efforts are critical, not only for man-made emergencies but also for natural emergencies, Jacobson said.
"If you look at severe weather — hurricanes, tornadoes — it happens, and it's happening more frequently in New England in the last few years, so we're making sure we have plans in place to address that."
With severe weather seemingly always on the horizon, town officials have been working to plan ahead.
During her tenure as town manager, Jacobson has seen seen a shelter opened, whether it be for snow, hurricanes or extended power outages or as a cooling shelter during extreme heat.
"We have a system down, we practice and we're ready for it," she said. "You do whatever you can to prepare for it, and you hope for the best. But everyday we're preparing in case anything catastrophic were to happen."
To help communicate with residents, two years ago the town instituted its CODE Red emergency notification services. Funded through grants and local cable revenue, the service allows town officials to notify Auburn residents and businesses by telephone, cellular phone, text message or email about time-sensitive emergency situations or important community alerts.
Additionally, Jacobson serves as a municipal representative for the Central Massachusetts Homeland Security Council, which includes police, fire, hospitals, public leaders and emergency management directors.
"We're all working together on emergency planning, at all levels of government," she said. "We're doing everything we can to protect the residents in every way we can."