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Shelter Island Reporter Editorial: Preparation and planning

The reaction of Tropical Storm Henri brushing by Shelter Island on Sunday ranged from, “Whew!”  to “Dodging a bullet” to “It’s better to be lucky than good.”

It could have been horrific.

But even if it was a relatively minor weather event, the Town was ready and had plans for something much more severe. Two meetings on Saturday and Sunday mornings brought together key players to assess the situation, assign tasks and make plans.

Shelter Island Town department managers, covering the Police, Fire, Highway and Building departments, along with Emergency Medical Services, Senior Services and the Recreation Department, as well as reps from North and South ferries, met along with Supervisor Gerry Siller and Deputy Supervisor Amber Brach-Williams on the Zoom sessions.

Police Chief Jim Read, the town’s emergency management coordinator, ran the meetings calmly, briskly and efficiently, with questions to each manager and notes on what was expected of them. He was in charge, but also asked for opinions and everyone weighed in with the best plans to keep Islanders safe. There were latest updates and maps charting the storm’s progress, with estimations given of wind speeds, storm surges and high tides. Nothing was left unsaid.

Also invited to attend the meetings was the media, a first, and a welcome development. We could evaluate the situation the Island faced with facts and figures from those on the ground, and were asked for questions before the meetings wrapped.

This is an example of transparency that sometimes is lacking, not just on Shelter Island, but with other governments and government agencies. It was an acknowledgement that reliable information can be disseminated via our print and digital editions.

We applaud Chief Read for inviting us to the table so we could do our jobs better, and provide solid information to our readers when a crisis loomed.

We also want to single out the leaders of the essential services on the Island — Chief Read of the Police Department, Chief Anthony Reiter of the Fire Department, Director/Chief of Operations Jack Thilberg of Emergency Medical Services and Brian Sherman of the Highway Department.

They all deserve our gratitude for their dedication and hard work.