‘You can count on the City of New Haven’: Behind the scenes at New Haven emergency storm meeting

News 8 Exclusive

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — If there’s a storm approaching New Haven, it’s a good bet Rick Fontana will be right in the center preparing for it.

Fontana is the city’s Director of Emergency Operations and he has this promise to Elm City residents regarding Henri.

“You can count on the city of New Haven public safety officials to be there to help in the time of need,” Fontana said.

Fontana gave News 8 exclusive access to one of several meetings Friday involving emergency officials, first responders, department heads and Mayor Justin Elicker.

He told News 8 now is the time for everyone to come together and get on the same page when it comes to guarding against whatever weather Henri brings and getting New Haven’s emergency resources ready.

“Every decision you make could certainly be a life-changing decision so we’ve got to make sure all of our fire, police, public works — all of our public safety officials, emergency operations, the mayor are really making the right calls here,” Fontana said.

Among the calls they’ve made so far — to have all hands on deck for Henri. Fontana says that means 72 firefighters working on a shift at ten stations to be ready in case they need to rescue people trapped in floodwaters or bail water out of people’s homes. Speaking of people’s homes, Fontana says expect power outages.

“We’re working together with UI,” Fontana said. “They’re at a Level 4 storm. This will be a significant impact and yes, prepare for a power outage that may affect your home for an extended period of time.”

He says Henri could bring a triple threat this weekend in the form of flooding, storm surge, and high winds.

They advise you to remove any loose items from your yard or outdoor deck. Make sure your cell phones are fully charged Saturday before Henri roars through early Sunday. Do not try to drive through floodwaters. If you need an emergency shelter, the city will open up Career Regional High School on Legion Avenue Sunday at 9 a.m.

Inside the city’s Emergency Operations Center, crews will be monitoring a bank of cameras the city has set up throughout the city for the first signs of flooding. Public Works crews were out and about today looking for areas where trees might be prone to fall onto power lines.

“We’ve got eyes everywhere,” Fontana said.

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