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"In this world of war and turmoil, it warms my heart that we, as Americans, still have enough compassion for one another to help out in times of need ... (Extract from email to Lyme Emergency Management Director, Lee Watkins, from Captain Mike Parent of Lake Charles Fire Department, La.)Recognizing this continuing need, Lee Watkins, Emergency Management Director for Lyme, and Old Lyme Fire Marshal Dave Roberge spearheaded the Phase II effort, collecting used fire-fighting gear from New London County fire departments, including 40 pieces of breathing apparatus and 100 sets of bunker gear."I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, as well as Mr. Dave [Roberge], and all the surrounding communities," Captain Mike Parent, from the Lake Charles Fire Department, wrote in an email to Watkins.
Standing in front of the retired Lyme fire truck being donated to Cameron Parish, La., are (from left to right) realtor Christy Lawrence, Chamber of Commerce President Charles DeLinks, LOL Schools Superintendent David Klein, American Red Cross volunteer Leon Just, Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold, Lyme First Selectman Bill Koch, Old Lyme Director of Emergency Management Services, David Roberge, and Lyme Director of Emergency Management Services, Lee Watkins,At a press briefing on Wednesday, Nov. 30, held in the parking lot of Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School, Lee Watkins, Lyme Director of Emergency Management Services, shared some of the staggering losses experienced by the storm- battered community."You can look at the photographs," he said, "the ones taken before, and the ones taken after.Watkins added that if a wave hit Old Lyme with an equivalent geographic penetration, the waters would have reached as far as Springfield, Mass.Dave Roberge, Old Lyme Director of Emergency Services, elaborated saying, "Lee (Watkins) was being led one step at a time, phone call by phone call, to Cameron Parish.As Watkins noted sadly, "They're the end of the tail of the dog."
"A lot of towns have plans to move kids, but few of the towns ever get to practice," Lyme Emergency Management Director Lee Watkins said."You can have all the plans in the world on paper, but if you don't try them out... on paper it's just not the same as doing it."Watkins said the drill would give everyone a chance to get to know each other."If we've never met before, it can be a little chaotic at the scene," he said.In addition to getting staff and students prepared for a possible evacuation, the simulation also will expose any flaws in the plan."We put a lot of effort into this, it doesn't mean it's going to go perfect," Watkins said.Both Klein and Watkins said the relocation simulation would be invaluable, even in the event that an emergency at Millstone never occurs.Watkins said the relocation plan would also help the district move students in the event of a fire, a student incident at any of the schools or a large accident on Interstate 95.Watkins is looking forward to the drill and the increased level of preparedness that it will bring to the district."We'll be miles ahead of any school that hasn't tried it," he said.
Lyme's Emergency Management Director, Lee Watkins, stands at far right.Lee Watkins, Emergency Management Director for Lyme, advised LymeLine that delivery of the new engine, ordered from Ferrara Fire Apparatus in Holden, La., had been delayed due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina.With the departure of the 1973 fire engine, Lyme will still have two engines and a tanker truck on hand.Watkins said that the older engine was always "the last tool out of the box," and that the town would still have sufficient emergency coverage until the new engine arrives.
Lyme and Old Lyme's Emergency Management Directors, Lee Watkins (left) and Dave Roberge (right) are leading the relief effortLee Watkins, Emergency Management Director of Lyme, and Dave Roberge, Old Lyme Fire Marshal, continue to spearhead the relief effort through Phase II, after their very successful leadership on Phase I. In December, the towns delivered a completely refurbished fire engine, new toys for over 200 children, and $20,000 in gift cards and cash to the area. In addition to the items on the needs list, Watkins is soliciting donations of fire fighting and emergency equipment from fire departments across the state.He showed slides of the destruction caused by Hurricane Rita to representatives of the New London County Fire Departments at a Feb. 1 meeting in Chesterfield, walking away with commitments for more than 20 sets of bunker gear (firemen's outfits) and over a thousand feet of fire hose.A selection of the items on the Needs List is pictured hereLocal businesses are pitching in as well.By the end of March, Watkins and Roberge hope to have enough donations to pack the trailer end to end before it sets out on its 1600 mile trip to Louisiana. The trailer will be carrying an important message of solidarity from the Lyme-Old Lyme community to Cameron Parish, along with its blankets, trash bags and toothbrushes.