Westfield prepares for potential hazardous weather - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Westfield prepares for potential hazardous weather

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With Hurricane Sandy barreling up the East Coast and winter on its way, Westfield emergency personnel are making sure they are ready if an emergency hits.

Mother nature made sure that Whip city emergency crews had plenty to work on last year.

In June, the tornado hit them first.

Two months later, Irene came barreling through, and two months after that, an October snowstorm kept 200 people in shelters for a week.

"We take the lessons we learned last year and we continue to build on what we did right and learn from what we felt we could improve upon," said Westfield Emergency Management Director Jim Wiggs.

So far, the emergency team has made improvements to levees, cleared storm drains and checked generators.

"Certainly we have a top-notch team," said Westfield Mayor Daniel Knapik.

And in July, they added a top-notch dispatch center to go with it.

When emergencies strike, it is the nerve center of the city, where dispatchers take police and fire calls and also have constant cameras up around the city keeping an eye on Westfield and making it safe.

Officials say it is a necessary tool to tackle the recent weather emergencies.

Last year, the waters of the Westfield River rose so fast that some residents had to be evacuated.

"It tested our response, we did have some businesses flood, we want to make sure we do a real good job of getting information out to them," Wiggs said.

These days, the waters of the Westfield River are much calmer.

But emergency workers say it's never too late to prepare.

"We learned we need to be a lot more self-supportive, we learned we need to continue to work well together," Wiggs said.

One more lesson Westfield officials did learn from last year was just how strong they could stand as a community through each disaster.

"We saw that time and time again here in Westfield. I think it's that spirit of living in Western Mass... we can tackle anything that hits us, I sleep well at night knowing that," Knapik said.

Friday the emergency management team, the mayor, MEMA and more will have a conference call to address shelter locations and generator power to make sure they are prepared for any inclement weather.

If you need any information regarding Westfield emergency procedures, go to their website.

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