Civil Preparedness - History

The Town of Wolcott Civil Preparedness Office, like most towns and cities got it's start from the Civil Defense programs created during the early days of World War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt described America as being in "a state of unlimited emergency" and as a result, advised each and every city to organize its own "Civil Defense" system to plan and prepare for the dangers ahead. 

On May 20, 1941 President Roosevelt created the Office of Civilian Defense to oversee and assist America's cities with this incredible task. Any lack of enthusiasm for this venture ended on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. The United States offically entered the war and Civil Defense became an ominous reality.

American's everywhere immersed themselves in the war effort. People were standing in line to enlist in the military. Many others got involved with the Civil Defense program. Cities throughout the country organized themselves into local Civil Defense chapters. It was a time of unlimited volunteerism. Civil Defense operated throughout the course of the war and when the war ended the world changed and so did Civil Defense.

The war was over, but the reality of the "atomic bomb" lead to high international tensions and before long, we were in the "Cold War". It was during this time that many of us experienced the "duck and cover" exercises in school. During the 1950's and 60's we were reminded daily that in the event of an emergency we should tune our radios to the Emergency Broadcast System for instructions from our local CONELRAD station. Many families built home bomb shelters in their back yards. The Civil Defense program created "Fallout Shelters" in the basements of many public buildings and stocked them with food, water, first aid supplies, sanitation kits and Radiological monitors. Air Raid Warning Siren Systems were installed and the public was instructed to go to the nearest Fallout Shelter when the air raid warning sounded.

Civil Defense underwent many changes during the post-war years as well as many name changes. During the 1970's and 1980's, Civil Defense agencies began to move toward an "All Hazard" format where they prepared for and responded to any emergency in their communities from National Security issues to severe weather events, from technological hazards to natural disasters. The creation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in 1979 began to bring all the various agencies together under one umbrella. The Civil Preparedness Office (as it is known today) is now a part of the Local Emergency Planning Commission which encompasses many other organizations i.e. Police, Fire, EMS, Red Cross, Amature Radio etc. to provide a true "All Hazard" support system. We have been and continue to plan for all types of disasters. Some examples of what we have done include providing functional shelter facilities with generator backup if needed. You may have noticed that we have not only reactivated the All Hazard Siren System in town but we have added 2 additional sirens (one at the Public Works Building and the other at Wakelee School). We also have plans to expand the number of sirens we are currently using to increase the warning coverage within our growing Town. We have complete and workable Emergency Operations Plans in place to cover all types of emergencies and to facilitate disaster recovery. Enhanced communications and support with other Cities, Towns, State and Federal agencies. We are better prepared today than ever before but as September 11th 2001 has shown us, we still have areas to improve on. We will continue to Plan, Prepare, Train and Educate town residence in the need to be aware and understand that Civil Defense always has and always will "start at home". We ALL need to be active and prepare to help those in our town who cannot help themselves. Our elderly, our children and our disabled. That's what America and Civil Preparededness is all about.