Darien first selectman Dave Campbell left for vacation in Utah on Sunday to celebrate his wife’s 50th birthday, according to the Stamford Advocate. Campbell told the advocate, “I left on Sunday after checking things with the police and thought everything was somewhat calm.”
Was Campbell sleeping on his drive from his Darien home to the airport and unable to see the destruction in town? Did he not realize that more than 70 percent of homes and businesses in town were without power? Did the town not realize most of their traffic signals were out? What about the dozens of impassable roads? Is Darien’s emergency response so poor that the town’s chief executive didn’t know that thousands of trees and dozens of power poles were strewn about neighborhoods in town posing countless hazards like electrocution? Or, did the first selectman just not want to cancel a vacation with his wife?
Poor storm response can be a political disaster. In 1973 Governor Meskill was on a family ski trip in Vermont during the state’s worst ice storm on record. Meskill’s career as an elected official was effectively over following the endless criticism for his slow response.
Whatever the reason for Dave Campbell’s absence during the storm may hurt him come election time. Some darienites, no doubt, will be ticked off when they realize their first selectman was vacationing while they were struggling to find a hot shower or working batteries for a flashlight. It wasn’t just Campbell either. The Governor’s office first communication with the media was in the form of a press release 24 hours after the storm began, during which time 3 state residents died. I think we can all learn some valuable lessons from this storm before a bigger storm strikes.