American Public Works Association (APWA) President George Crombie is asking members to help honor a father and son from Rutland, Vt. - first responders who died in the floodwaters of Hurricane Irene last week. All public works departments are encouraged to fly their flags at half-staff on Wednesday, Sept. 7 and Thursday, Sept. 8 as a tribute to Michael J. Garofano, a long-time public works employee, and his son, Michael G. Garofano (see Crombie's note, below).

In a statement on Aug. 31, Crombie said APWA's New England Chapter has offered assistance to cities and towns across Vermont, to provide assistance and resources for public works departments in need. “There are over 236 roads devastated, communities cut off, and multiple bridges destroyed,” he said. “Many of these small Vermont communities have very limited resources.”

Crombie encouraged members to view such “disastrous events” as a call to action, to heed the recommendations of the APWA Emergency Management Think Tank Report that recommends an APWA National Emergency Management Plan.

Following is Crombie's Sept. 6 letter to APWA members.

    Dear APWA Members:

    Later this week, several members of the APWA New England Chapter and I plan to attend services for Mr. Michael J. Garofano, Water Treatment and Resource Manager for the City of Rutland, VT Department of Public Works. Mr. Garofano was employed by the City beginning in 1981 and he and his son, Michael G. Garofano, lost their lives in the line of duty as a result of the devastation caused by Hurricane Irene. As a tribute to Mr. Garofano, I am asking all public works departments to fly flags at half-staff beginning 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 7, 2011 to 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 8, 2011. Mr. Garofano was performing his first responder duties and I encourage all agencies to honor him with this public tribute. This action will also serve as a reminder to the public at large of the critical role public works plays in every community in the U.S. and Canada responding to natural disasters and keeping the public safe. I also want to thank the public works departments, engineering firms and individuals who have reached out to offer assistance to cities and towns in Vermont. The New England Chapter is particularly active in organizing and offering help. If you can offer any assistance or resources, please contact Cory Gustafson, Vermont League of Cities and Towns, at cgustafson@vlct.org.

    Thank you to all members for your continuing commitment to public works and the communities you serve.

    Sincerely,

    George Crombie, MPA, BCEEM
    President