BOSTON Sandy is currently a Category 1 hurricane, and its effects are expected to be felt in the greater Boston area as early as Sunday night. In anticipation of the approaching storm, Gov. Deval Patrick has declared a state of emergency across the commonwealth.
“While we continue to hope for the best, we are planning for the worst,” Patrick said during a news conference Saturday afternoon. “This [declaration] enables us to cut through some of the red tape sometimes involved in securing the necessary services, supplies and personnel I want to be sure we have in advance of Hurricane Sandy reaching us.”
State And National Coordination
The governor explained that his office has been working closely with the National Weather Service, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, utility companies and other state agencies to prepare for Sandy.
“Depending on how far north Sandy goes before turning west, there is potential for moderate to major coastal flooding and severe beach erosion. We’re expecting damaging winds, strong enough for widespread power outages. There will be bands of heavy rain with the potential for five inches or more over several days,” Patrick said.
The governor has called in the services of the Massachusetts National Guard. He said 200 guard members would be on duty on Saturday, increasing to 1,000 by Monday — and more if necessary.
Federal assistance is also possible. Patick announced that he was submitting a request to President Obama for a pre-landfall emergency declaration for direct federal assistance.
What People Should Do To Prepare
The governor provided a comprehensive listing of what individual Massachusetts residents can to do in order to safeguard their homes and themselves. He said:
It would be wise for people to complete whatever errands they need to run before Sunday evening. If the storm continues on its current track, we will probably be asking people to stay off the roads after Sunday evening after the impact of the storm has reached us, so as to make it as easy and as safe as possible for emergency personnel to get around.
Make sure you have a flashlight, batteries, sufficient non-perishable foods, water, a first aid kit and necessary medications on hand.
Think about and plan for pets.
It’s not a bad idea to have a certain amount of cash available if that’s convenient for you to do. If the power goes out in widespread areas as is anticipated, ATMs may not be working.
Trim back trees and shrubbery around your home. Remove diseased or damaged limbs that could be blown down and cause damage during the storm.
Clear clogged rain gutters. The storm brings a potential for an awful lot of rain in a relatively short period of time, and providing clear drainage will help prevent misdirected flooding.
Elevate items in your basement that could be damaged from even minor flooding.
Gas up cars and trucks.
Learn where gas pilots and water mains are located and how to safely shut off the utilities in your home.
Lock doors and windows when the wind begins to pick up to ensure they’re closed tight against the elements.
Folks should make sure they have working batteries in their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide monitors.
If you run a generator, be certain that it is properly connected and set up to run outside or in a well ventilated area. If you find yourself using a generator in the course of the storm, be sure to shut off the main electricity to the house. Presumably, you’re running a generator because there’s a downed power line somewhere in the neighborhood. If you use a generator, the electricity will simply flow out through your house to that downed line and can present a hazard to repair workers or to your neighbors.
Move inside or tie down lawn furniture or grills.
Be mindful of flying debris, including Halloween decorations and ornaments.
Patrick also stressed a sense of community responsibility.
“While you’re making your own preparations, check in on an elderly or disabled neighbors who may be shut in. Make sure they have what they need in terms of food and medication and company,” he said. “Make sure they stay safe and feel safe as well.”
For more state emergency information, the governor encouraged residents to visit mass.gov or call 211.