DOVER-FOXCROFT — Piscataquis County and Dexter municipal officials say they are well prepared for any emergency that Y2K may bring, but they also are optimistic that the event will pass without incident.
The worst that could occur at midnight New Year’s Eve, they say, is that a drunken motorist might hit a utility pole and cause a power outage, or that everyone would decide to pick up their telephone at midnight to check for a dial tone and overload the circuits.
“I don’t foresee any problems except some minor disturbances,” Brian Mullis, Dover-Foxcroft’s emergency management director, said Tuesday, alluding to the drunken driver or overloaded telephone circuit scenario.
Mullis said the town has backup generators in place at the sewer and water treatment plants in the event of a power outage. The fire station has been designated as an emergency shelter, and a backup water supply is in place there, he said.
Mullis said he’s been assured by the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department, the county emergency management agency and the American Red Cross that the county will not lose communications in the event of a disaster.
“We’re really well prepared,” Mullis said. He said arrangements have been made with local grocery stores for food, if needed. Mullis said a distribution system for a large grocery chain for the New England states has enough stock in their warehouse to supply stores in New England for up to six weeks.
Firefighters will remain on standby at the Dover-Foxcroft fire station, and key town officials will remain in town should there be an emergency situation, according to Mullis.
Although he does not anticipate any problems, Sheriff John Goggin said Tuesday that extra staff will be on duty New Year’s Eve.
Goggin said his department has a backup generator in the event of a power failure. Should communications be disrupted, deputies will work with local fire departments to check on elderly residents, the sheriff said.
Mayo Regional Hospital officials in Dover-Foxcroft are well prepared because they have had a crisis plan in place for years, according to Tom Lizotte, director of marketing and development. He said Tuesday that the hospital has new telephone and computer systems and that all of the equipment needed in the event of an emergency has been tested.
Lizotte said key hospital officials will be at the facility’s command center from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in the event of a disaster to allow immediate decisions to be made. He said contingency plans are in place, extra drinking water has been secured and additional generators placed on the hospital campus.
“We really don’t expect anything to happen,” said Lizotte. But should a disaster strike, Mayo hospital will be the safest place to be in Piscataquis County, he said.
In the Moosehead Lake region, the Greenville schools have been designated as emergency shelters. Town Manager David Cota said Tuesday that the biggest problem that could plague the region would be a loss of power.
“I just can’t imagine there’s going to be any problems whatsoever,” he said. Cota believes the town is Y2K-compliant and that the only problem that might surface in the town office is the possible malfunction of a first-generation facsimile machine.
Dexter’s town manager said he was “guardedly optimistic” that the new year will be ushered in without any problems. Town Manager Robert Simpson said he thought that Maine residents are more prepared than the rest of the country for emergencies.
“We have the ability to survive,” he said.
According to Simpson, a committee of residents and town officials has worked for months on a crisis action plan for the town that even takes into consideration the malfunction of the town’s only stoplight. That plan designates the fire station as a primary emergency shelter with the ambulance building on Grove Street and the old town hall as secondary emergency shelters.
Simpson said firefighters and ambulance personnel will be on duty New Year’s Eve.