Hartford - In the wake of four major storms in the last two years, the state will hold a preparedness drill this week, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Tuesday, and the state's major electrical utilities are joining in an industrywide plan for response to weather catastrophes.
State agencies will conduct a drill on Thursday and Saturday simulating a severe ice storm in the western part of the state, Malloy said. The drill will test the state's mutual aid system and the response of utilities, involving all cities and towns that are willing to participate.
Goals include improving communications for clearing roads and restoring utilities, activating local emergency operation centers, establishing coordinated emergency shelters and reviewing and implementing regional emergency support plans, Malloy said.
The exercises are part of Malloy's 2011 Emergency Preparedness and Planning Initiative.
So far, 150 towns have agreed to participate in one or both days of the ice storm drill. Lyme, Preston and Salem have told the state's Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection that they will not be participating, department spokesman Scott DeVico said.
Getting sufficient personnel and equipment from outside the area affected by a storm is a major issue, Malloy said.
"We may not get everything right every time, but we will hold everyone - including ourselves in state government - accountable to implement the lessons that we have learned to do a better job each and every day," Malloy said.
Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating, the state's major providers of electrical power, have announced they are participating in creating an industrywide response plan for catastrophic events.
When Malloy was asked whether utility companies had given him any assurances during their hour-long meeting on Tuesday, he said, "There are no assurances."
The goal is to protect against a range of storms and to prepare to respond as quickly as humanly possible, Malloy said.
Since he took office, he said, there have been five emergency declarations by the president for Connecticut.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted 13 to 20 named storms for the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season. Up to 11 could be hurricanes; three to six could be major hurricanes, according to NOAA.
This is "well above" the 1981-2010 seasonal average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes, according to NOAA.
What Connecticut learned from Tropical Storm Irene and the October snowstorm in 2011, Malloy said, improved the way the state responded to Superstorm Sandy.
Under the framework being created by utility companies, a chief executive officer of a member utility would determine a catastrophic event to be a "national response event" and call on the industry group to examine the resources available nationally and determine what is needed and how to get the resources there, said William Quinlan, senior vice president of emergency preparedness for Connecticut Light & Power.
The goal is to get the framework in place by August, he said.