On Tuesday, August 4th, Hurricane Isaias wreaked havoc on Ridgefield and many other surrounding communities in the state of Connecticut. With a majority of the town without electrical power, water, and an internet connection, by day #5, residents’ patience begins to wear thin, and their needs become more significant. While Ridgefielders have been through storm scenarios similar to this one, experience doesn't make it any easier, particularly for seniors, our most vulnerable residents.
Ridgefield’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) provides steady support, communications, and resources during times like these and is an integral part of the town’s crisis recovery process. On the evening of Friday, August 7th, EOC received a phone call from Ballard Green resident, Susan Proctor, asking to speak to Bob Hebert, present in the EOC as a member of CERT. Susan relayed that Ballard Green had lost its power at 4:30 AM that morning and that many residents were struggling with the concerning consequences of not being able to communicate with family members to being unable to plug in necessary medical equipment for a resident with COPD.
With Hebert’s coordination, the EOC team efficiently developed a plan to address residents' concerns and comfort the community. The next morning, Ridgefield’s Police Department arrived with water and MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat), and the Fire Department knocked on each door, performed resident wellness checks, and logged the health status for all present. Longtime Ballard Green Building Maintenance Manager, Doug Shepard, also set up a generator with outlets for the residents to charge their cell phones. Jan and Bob Hebert set tablecloths on outdoor picnic tables and provided 60 egg sandwiches from Dimitri’s and Dunkin’ coffee for all the residents.
“Throughout the morning, around 50 residents joined the gathering and had breakfast with us. Even the security guard and the mailman stopped by for a sandwich! There was a remarkable shift in the attitudes and feelings of the residents. They had been worried, but having folks show up to share a meal and check on them, let them know that they are cared for and were not being forgotten in this crisis,” said Jan.
Jan organized efforts with Michelle Palmer, Resident Services Coordinator from Konover Management, to plan dinner delivery for that evening for the residents to be paid for by the Housing Authority.
At one point in the morning there were verses of the Christmas carol, “Joy to the World” and “Do-Re-Mi” from The Sound of Music being sung. The morning began with worried faces filled and ended with songs and smiles. Susan Proctor told Bob Hebert, “You’ve earned your angel wings!”
Hebert and EOM pulled together quickly to bring these needed resources to residents. Bob said, “Jan and I were pleased to bring breakfast to the residents and spend some time making sure their needs were being met. Ridgefielders and our local Police and Fire departments, illustrate Ridgefield at its finest.” Hebert added, “It’s one of the best things about our town.”
When times are tough, Ridgefielders dig-in with acts of kindness that snowball even in the August heat and the aftermath of a storm. It’s an excellent reminder that all of us reach out to those around us, check-in, locate resources, and help out when needed.