Remember, for a moment, our most recent Winter of Discontent.
From last December to the beginning of April, the Eastern portion of the United States was the insufferable victim of a weather assault the likes of which have not been seen in decades. It was a polar vortex explosion of record snowfalls and low temperatures that forced the closures of businesses, schools, roads and bridges in every pocket of southern Chester County.
Our driveways were an avalanche of unwanted snow that would not retreat. Our children's school days were defined by delays, abbreviated schedules, and electrical and heating shutdowns. Our businesses were often reduced from full operation to a few hearty souls who could brave the commute.
For nearly five months, our patience had worn down to the nub, and it seemed that we searched everywhere for information about dates, places, routes, and assistance: township and municipality websites, electrical and utility hotlines, even neighbors we saw shoveling snow next door.
In the now-frequent traffic congestion and other delays that travelers on the New Jersey Turnpike face on a regular basis, there is an AM radio station, advertised on the roadsides, that gives information about what is ahead of them on the turnpike. If you've tuned into the station, there are no screaming deejays or pop music blaring, just vital details about road and lane closures, weather events and precautionary advice.
For the next several weeks and beyond, the members of the Avon Grove Regional Emergency Management [AGREM] will be meeting with representatives from Avondale and West Grove, and the nearby townships of Penn, New London, Franklin, and London Britain, in order to obtain their support for the start of a similar emergency radio station for the residents of these townships.
The station will be transmitted from the West Grove water tower to individuals and families within a seven-mile radius, and allow townships, municipalities, local police, businesses, schools and utility companies to broadcast information of vital concern. These entities can broadcast news about threats of terrorism, oil spills and potential school shootings. In short, the station is designed to be a one-stop shop of everything we need to know in the event of an emergency.
Everything is still in the talking stage, however. For now, AGREM members are on a road trip from township to township, standing before leaders in our communities and asking for a little start-up money to get the station on its feet and pay for operating costs.
As AGREM pursues the funding, we encourage everyone they approach – local governments, utility companies, schools and businesses – to ante up what they can. Should you tell them that your township or your business cannot afford it, we ask, can you afford to have the residents of the communities you serve live though another emergency such as our most recent winter, searching for information they may never find?