Public Awareness

Southold Town Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Public Awareness

The Town of Southold’s Office of Emergency Management is responsible for preparing the town and the public to manage activities before, during, and after the impact of a natural or man-made disaster. Our goal is to minimize the impact of incidents or disasters which potentially threaten the safety and welfare of our citizens. This requires a partnership amongst all levels of government, the private sector, volunteer and religious organizations, and the general public.

When a disaster strikes, the overall authority for directing emergency operations in the Town of Southold resides with the Town Supervisor/Emergency Preparedness Coordinator and the Chief of Police/Deputy Emergency Preparedness Coordinator.

Four Phases of an Emergency

Generally speaking emergencies can be divided into four phases for emergency management which are mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.


Mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters. In order for mitigation to be effective we need to take action now, before the next disaster, to reduce human and financial consequences later (analyzing risk, reducing risk, and insuring against risk). It is important to know that disasters can happen at anytime and anyplace. If we are not prepared, consequences can be fatal.


Preparedness activities include developing plans to enhance response capabilities and conducting exercises to assess response efficiencies. This can lead to the creation of certain steps to be taken to ensure safety before, during and after a natural or man-made disaster. Examples of natural disasters include floods, blizzards, hurricanes and tornadoes. Man-made disasters can include explosions, fires, chemical, biological and radiological attacks.


Response activities for the office of emergency management are designed to provide the public with emergency assistance. Examples of response activities include:
  • Monitoring and coordinating disaster response personnel.
  • Coordinating services and resources of various agencies to address the needs of the public.
  • Predicting the impact of a disaster (where, when, and to what degree).
  • Notifying other authorities and agencies.
  • Issuing public warnings.


Recovery activities are performed to return the community to normal or near normal conditions through relief operations. Examples of recovery operations include restoring utilities, clearing and restoring roads, and restoring town infrastructure to provide necessary services.

Emergency Operations Center (EOC)

Working in conjunction with the OEM team the Town Supervisor might decide to open the EOC, which is located at Southold Police Headquarters. This is a centralized command location where resources can be directed toward the situation through a coordinated effort. While the EOC is in an active state, effective communication especially during an emergency is of the utmost importance and requires the support of all of the entities and organizations involved. Multiple communication methods will be in place in order to have redundancy in case of technology failures. Having different methods of communication will also enable the EOC to disseminate critical information to the public. These methods include, the town website, local radio stations and the local press.

The EOC is responsible for the strategic overview of the disaster, and does not normally control emergency operations in the field. Generally speaking the role of the EOC is to:
  • Maintain an overall “situation awareness” for critical decision making to protect life, property and the environment.
  • Prioritize efficient and effective use of limited critical resources.
  • Coordinate between multiple disciplines, jurisdictions and agencies.
  • Provide accurate and timely public alerts, warnings and information.
  • Maintain coordinated communications systems.
  • Determines recovery priorities, create a plan of action and implement a recovery process.


Many residents might be able to safely shelter at home (shelter in place) in the event of an emergency, however there could be times when some residents might be urged to evacuate their homes. Evacuation can be especially difficult for residents who are disabled, have special medical needs, or are otherwise vulnerable during an emergency. The Town’s shelters provide residents with a safe place to stay and basic assistance to help them get through the emergency.

With help from public volunteers the Town of Southold operates its own emergency shelters. These shelters are divided into three categories; Primary General Population, Secondary General Population and Special Needs – Non Medical. Individuals that require medical assistance during sheltering are encouraged to sign up for Suffolk County’s Joint Emergency Evacuation Program.

Primary General Population

Primary general population shelters provide a basic level of care and are open to all. No pre-registration is required. If you have a self-managed health condition or disability, you will likely be able to shelter comfortably in one of our general population shelters. When individuals arrive at a shelter they will be greeted by trained volunteers that will request some basic information and will review the guidelines for general sheltering. The following are Southold’s general population shelters.
Peconic Community Center - 1170 Peconic Lane, Peconic
Oysterponds School - 23405 Main Rd, Orient
Greenport School - 720 Front St, Greenport
Fishers Island School - Greenwood St., FI

Secondary General Population

Secondary general population shelters follow the same guidelines as the primary general population shelters but Southold’s OEM will open the secondary shelters if the magnitude of the event and or intensity of the event requires it. The following are Southold’s secondary population shelters.
Southold School - 420 Oaklawn Av, Southold
Mattituck High School - 15125 Main Rd, Mattituck

Special Needs Non-Medical
Special needs non-medical shelters are for those individuals that need assistance during an evacuation and cannot manage safely in a general population shelter due to medical, physical or other limitations. Pre-registration is recommended and depending on their needs, will be informed on the type of shelter they qualify for. Contact the Southold HRC at 631-298-4460 for registration information for non-medical special needs or Suffolk County at 631-853-4900 to enroll in their medical special needs program (Joint Emergency Evacuation Program). The following is Southold’s special needs non-medial shelter.

Human Resource Center - 750 Pacific St, Mattituck


The Town Supervisor may recommend or could even mandate that certain residents take steps to evacuate their homes to protect their health and welfare in the event of an approaching storm or other hazardous event. If an evacuation order were to be issued you should stay calm and do as directed. The Town's OEM will communicate evacuation orders and instructions through the local media, the Town’s website and by our local Police and Fire Departments going door to door. Evacuees should plan their mode of transportation to the shelters.

If you must evacuate your home, because you live in an evacuation zone or you feel unsafe in your home, your first choice should be to stay with family or friends in a location outside the evacuation zone. This is where you will probably be most comfortable. Keep in mind that our shelters only provide emergency, short-term sheltering to the public. They do not provide adequate supplies of food, water and bedding, so individuals seeking shelter are encouraged to bring an Emergency Supplies Kit. An Emergency Supplies Kit could include items such as bottled water, snacks, prescription and emergency medication, extra clothing, pillows, blankets and other comfort items, hygiene supplies, and cash. See the Emergency Preparedness section of the Town’s website for more information.


 In summary the mission of Southold’s Office of Emergency Management is to help prevent, prepare, respond to, restore services, recover from and mitigate the effects of any natural or man-made disaster impacting our Town. Our team’s responsibility include identifying activities and strategies that aid in the effort to elevate the general level of awareness pertaining to emergency preparedness. These strategies also include public education and training, recruiting, mobilizing and coordinating volunteers in an effort to support emergency preparedness. Our overall goal is your safety.