Two years ago this community of 2,000 people lived through an ice storm that knocked out power to the majority of residents for more than a week.
Jim Powell, chairman of the board of selectman for the town, said the experience has left the community feeling it can cope with any emergency, even Y2K. 'That was quite an experience,' he said. 'Anything that happens now won't be anywhere close to that kind of emergency.'
Still, the town is taking no chances. Bottled water is stored in the town hall.
Emergency generators are waiting to be fired up in case power goes out. Two-way radios connect town officials to police and state officials. A list of elderly residents and people with health problems has been drawn up so emergency personnel can check up on them, door to door, if problems should occur. The town hall can double as an emergency operations center housing well over 100 people.
If the town should need additional help, it will be in constant radio contact with the Office of Emergency Management in Concord, the state capital. State and private sector representatives will staff a Y2K Command Center and monitor power outages and phone problems from New Year's Eve into New Year's Day with representatives from the state police, the public utilities commission, Bell Atlantic, the National Guard, and the department of transportation.
'When we had that major ice storm, it was a similar scenario,' said Doug Patch, co-chairman of the Governor's Y2K Preparedness Task Force.
Despite the crowd of officials spending New Year's Eve at the Y2K command center, Patch said, he is not anticipating major problems. 'We're really not expecting much, to be honest with you,' he said. 'Maybe you can view it as a bit of overkill (with all the officials), but we felt better doing it this way.'
In Newbury, town officials said that if the ice storm was any indication of how well their residents handle these kinds of emergencies, then they are not worried. 'A lot of people hunkered down and sat by their wood stoves. A lot have generators,' said Dennis Pavlicek, town administrator. The fire station supplied food, and the town hall housed several families. 'A lot of people were just able to stay at home.'
Contact: Jim Powell, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, Newbury, N.H., 603-938-2228. Dennis Pavlicek, town administrator, Newbury, N.H., 603-763-4940. Doug Patch, co-chairman of the Governor's Y2K Preparedness Task Force, Concord, N.H. 603-271-2442.
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