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County Business Leader Starts Irene Hearings

A task force to study and make recommendations to improve future storm response in Connecticut — co-chaired by Fairfield County business leader Joseph McGee — will convene Wednesday in Hartford.

McGee is vice president of the Business Council of Fairfield County and a Fairfield resident. Retired Army Maj. Gen. James Skiff will serve as co-chair, and former Stamford Fire Chief Robert McGrath is a member of the panel.

"We're using Irene as a wake-up call, but it was only a tropical storm ... what if we ever do have a Category 2 or 3 Hurricane? We better be a lot more prepared than we were this time," McGee said.

Gov. Dannel Malloy appointed the task force, called the State Team Organized for the Review of Management of Irene, or S.T.O.R.M. It will begin reviewing preparedness, response and recovery efforts of the state and its partners – including the utility companies and municipalities.

"It is important that a broad, objective evaluation be done to review how Irene was handled in the state, identifying areas that can be improved upon and – most importantly – (to) make recommendations for future disaster preparedness and response," Malloy said. "This will be a comprehensive evaluation of state agencies, utility companies, municipalities, nonprofits and the private sector."

The eight-member panel will begin with an organizational discussion on goals and objectives. It will submit recommendations to Malloy by early December.

"We plan to review what worked and what didn't work during Irene and come up with recommendations on how best to prepare for future storms," said McGee. "We will compile data from a broad spectrum of local, state and federal agencies and talk to experts across the country."

McGee said the task force will recommend changes to ensure such problems as downed trees, prolonged power outages, blocked roads and social service delays are minimized in future storms.

"We will be accepting data from the state's five regional Emergency Management offices and the utilities," McGee said. "A big issue is training. It's very clear we need to establish training programs so the state is prepared for these kinds of storms." To reach Richard Weizel, email .

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