It’s not surprising, the weekend before Christmas, that most Cranberry residents would be focused on last-minute holiday preparations. But weather was a concern. Over the previous two days, a monster polar vortex had been marching across the northern states, bringing widespread power failures, horrendous driving conditions and structure fires that were extremely difficult to fight. The southern edge of the storm’s trajectory seemed poised to cross through Southwestern Pennsylvania on Friday night, and local forecasters warned their listeners to avoid going out until temperatures rose enough to melt the overnight accumulation of road ice.
But not everyone was preoccupied with preparing for the holidays from the comfort of their homes, worried about the last minute shopping, baking and entertaining. A small but dedicated group of Township employees, volunteers and allied first responders were focused on something entirely different: ensuring the safety of their fellow residents.
I am tremendously proud to be a part of a community whose priorities – keeping one another safe – are in the right place. Let me share their story.
Starting late Friday evening, every agency in the Township with a role to play in public safety was preparing for the worst and deploying is resources accordingly. For example:
- Our Volunteer Fire Company began staffing the two Fire Stations around the clock with firefighters prepared to respond instantly to any calls for service.
- Our Public Works Department sent out trucks overnight to pretreat roads and prepare for the accumulated ice. Then they sent out more when the snow and ice arrived. Beyond that, a Department field crew responded to a water line break in a residential area, restoring the water service within a couple hours
- Cranberry EMS prepped their crews and outfitted their equipment to respond quickly to any calls for service, particularly those related to dangerous driving conditions.
- Our Police Department was on full alert and prepared to respond immediately in the event of an increase in calls due to poor driving conditions or power failures.
- Throughout the night, a seven-person crew monitored all areas of operations, keeping a close eye on emerging weather conditions and developing power issues. If needed, they were prepared to activate our Emergency Operations Center to coordinate Township services and collaborate with the Butler County Emergency Management Office. Had the Emergency Operations Center been activated, representatives of Fire, Police, EMS, Communications, and Public Works were ready to spring into action.
In the end, we were fortunate; the weather system dealt us a glancing blow, but not the knockout punch that it did to our north. But Saturday morning, as the rest of Cranberry woke up to see rising temperatures and roads clear of ice, they were free to concentrate on their list of holiday chores without ever knowing what was going on behind the scenes while they slept.
If you want to be part of this amazing group of residents who work for the safety of their community, please contact me, at Jerry.Andree@CranberryTownship.org. We can use you!