Town websites delivered mixed storm message


As hurricane Earl approached Martha’s Vineyard, Code Red announcements advised Island residents that “all roads and businesses should close at 2 pm on Friday and remain closed due to the possible arrival of Hurricane Earl.” The announcement advised residents to check their town websites for additional information.

But a check of town and county websites early Friday afternoon revealed that additional information was in short supply, and Hurricane information ranged from nonexistent on the Aquinnah website to complete and up-to-date on Edgartown’s, and the prominence of posted information varied among website entry pages (available at

Aquinnah closed its beaches Friday, but a visitor or resident who checked the Aquinnah town website September 3 would have found no information about that or anything related to the approaching hurricane, although there was information about a library program on August 24.

Chilmark’s website carried a red banner at the top that said “Emergency management,” that led to hurricane related information.

Dukes County took a more muted approach. At the top of a column with the heading of “County News,” the county website announced “County offices close at noon today.” The next listing was “storm update — shelters.”

Tisbury took a similar approach. No glaring headlines, just two linked listings under the heading of “News and Events” that announced that town shelters would open at noon and that there would be a driving ban.

West Tisbury displayed its hurricane information in a box. That included the news that town hall would close at noon and that there was “an Island-wide travel advisory beginning at 2 pm the same day.”

Edgartown’s website entry page was devoted to the hurricane and included important notifications, telephone numbers, and a hurricane/emergency preparedness guide.

In a press release, Oak Bluffs highlighted its website but failed to deliver the goods. “Please note,” said the release, “we cannot guarantee that radio stations or newspaper websites will promptly post our information. For most recent information, please refer to the town’s website.”

On the side of the entry page under the heading “Latest News” in a column that included news about trash stickers and just above an outdated and erroneous heading, “Inkwell Beach closed,” was a listing “hurricane warning.”

As of Tuesday night the Oak Bluffs website still warned of the approach of hurricane Earl and said Inkwell Beach is closed. There were no updates regarding the 24-hour travel ban.