Officials at Fort Drum focus on preparing
for upcoming winter during town hall meeting


Mike Strasser

Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs


FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Sept. 25, 2020) – Fall kicked off earlier this week, which means only one thing in the North Country – winter is right around the corner.

Rich Hughes - Town Hall 24SEP2020.jpgTo inform the community about what’s ahead, Fort Drum officials hosted a virtual town hall Sept. 24 on the topic of winter preparedness.

“We know that a number of our families are new to the North Country, and some of you have not yet experienced a severe winter,” said Col. Jeffery Lucas, Fort Drum garrison commander. “Perhaps we won’t either, but we know that winters can be harsh in this area. So, we wanted to take advantage of National Emergency Preparedness Month to talk about our upcoming winter season and some of the things you can do to make you and your family prepared for our winter months.”

Rich Hughes, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security installation emergency

manager, said that preparations made early can alleviate people’s concerns about extreme weather conditions.

“Have a simple family plan so everyone knows where to go in an emergency if you are not at

Rich Hughes, Fort Drum Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security installation emergency manager, shares valuable information during the Winter Preparedness Town Hall on Sept. 24. (Photo by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)

home,” he said. “Also, know how you’re going to communicate with your family and leaders if power goes out and you need to get in touch with people.”

Hughes said that there are resources on the website for making family plans, as well as emergency supply checklists for the home and vehicle.

Preparedness also means being informed. Hughes said that the Alert! System is the Army’s official method for delivering emergency information to the installation’s population. Soldiers and DoD employees can receive messages about emergency situations sent as a pop-up window on government computers, as well as by email, voicemail or text message. Fort Drum community members can enroll in the system through their sponsors.

Community members also are encouraged to monitor local news media for weather conditions and to check the following resources for Fort Drum’s road conditions and reporting status throughout the winter.

* Fort Drum website:

* Fort Drum Facebook page:

* Fort Drum Information Hotline: (315) 772-DRUM (3786).

Hughes reviewed the decision-making process used by senior leaders for weather delays. This includes evaluating weather forecasts from multiple sources, off-post and on-post road conditions, snow removal efforts and training area activity. He said that when a decision about delaying the duty day is made, that information is released to the public via the resources listed above no later than 3:45 a.m.

“It has to be that early so we can prevent people from driving to work and having to get turned around,” Hughes said.

He added that after the reporting delay is announced, weather conditions and road status are re-evaluated, and any change to the duty day is announced by 6:45 a.m.

Lucas added that families should be aware that the decision is made independent of the reporting status of local school districts.

Community members with questions about winters at Fort Drum and how to safely prepare for them can attend classes offered through the Command Safety Office and Readiness Relocation Program.

Every vehicle should have a winter survival kit, and the Command Safety Office’s Winter Driving class reviews every item it should include. Attendees also learn how to prepare their car for the winter, traveling tips in different winter conditions, and other valuable tips.

John Drozd said that one of the main themes he teaches in this class is “See and Be Seen.” Before driving, he said to clear the entire vehicle of snow – particularly the windows, hood, roof and trunk – so that the driver can see on all sides. In addition, clearing snow from the front and rear lights and keeping them on when driving allows other motorists to see your vehicle on the road.

The Command Safety Office also offers a Snow Blower Operation course, scheduled 15 minutes after the Winter Driving course.

Both classes begin Oct. 13 and run on selected Tuesdays through March 16 for Soldiers, family members and DoD civilians. The Command Safety Office is located at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield, Bldg. 20621 on Munns Corner Road.

For more information or to register, call (315) 772-3022 or 772-0310.

Megan Klosner, Fort Drum Mountain Community Homes project director, reminded residents that the street parking restriction begins Nov. 1 to allow easier road access for snow removal vehicles.

While Mountain Community Homes clears snow from bus stops, mail kiosks, fire hydrants and common sidewalks, Klosner said that community members also have snow removal responsibilities.

“What that means is, in turn, residents are responsible for clearing snow from their driveways and the sidewalks leading up to their home,” she said. “It’s important for residents to make sure those areas are clear in case of emergencies where personnel need to access your home, or for a work order so our maintenance technicians can safely access your home.”

Community snow removal services are available under the Resident Resources page at  

After several months under COVID-19 restrictions, many recreational outlets and services on post are operational once again. Sharon Addison, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation director, said that a cautious and effective approach was taken to provide community members with a variety of activities they can enjoy while still following safety guidelines.

Community members can visit to see fitness facility schedules, dining options and more. They can also check the calendar for upcoming events, such as the 3rd annual Turkey Shoot on Oct. 10 or the inaugural Pheasant Hunt on Oct. 17.

Addison also recommended arranging a trip through Outdoor Recreation to learn about the region’s skiing, apple-picking and hiking opportunities. For families looking for a “staycation” or even just a picnic, she said the fall foliage around Remington Park is a sight to see and enjoy.

Details about Remington Park and Recreational Lodging can be found by calling (315) 774-7331 or messaging at

Lucas said that broadcasting a virtual town hall on winter preparedness is convenient for a lot of family members, especially those who are expecting to arrive at Fort Drum in the near future. In the past several months, these events have been recorded in COVID-19-compliant environments without an audience present.

“We are all very much looking forward to the day where we can have these kinds of forums in venues where we can share some camaraderie with each other,” he said.

The town hall is available to watch at