Aug 26, 2011
BY SCOTT P. MOORE
Standard Staff Reporter
Now might be a good time to stock up on the essentials — bottled water, milk, and eggs — as Hurricane Irene, a category three storm packing winds upwards of 115 mph, looks to be on track as of Thursday afternoon to make a direct hit on Nassau County and Long Island.
The storm, wreaking havoc over the Bahamas on Thursday, is on to track further North along the East Coast of the United States and possibly make its first landfall near The Outer Banks, North Carolina as a major hurricane before hitting the Northeast on Sunday afternoon.
“There’s more uncertainty as it heads North, whether it it hits land in New Jersey or over open water,” said AccuWeather meteorologist Paul Walker. “Either way, we expect the storm to weaken as it goes northward on Saturday night or Sunday.”
As of Thursday evening, no watches or warnings have been issued for the local area. A hurricane watch means there is a possibility of a hurricane strike within the next 48 hours, usually issued before tropical storm-force winds hit the area. A hurricane warning is issued when hurricane conditions are expected in the area within 36 hours.
“We’re expecting a hurricane or for it to weaken to a tropical storm, depending on the track,” said Walker. “It could be a minimal hurricane or strong tropical storm.” Walker said to look for category one hurricane conditions, or sustained winds upwards of 74 to 95 mph with gusts reaching 100 mph. Irene also will dump a large volume of rain over the area, said Walker, with storm totals between five and 10 inches.
“If the storm track does not change, we will be evacuating the Barrier Beach,” said Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano at a hurricane press conference on Thursday afternoon. “I am calling on residents of the Barrier Island, including Atlantic Beach, East Atlantic Beach, Lido Beach, Long Beach, and Point Lookout to begin preparation for a possible evacuation of their communities.” Mangano said that Nassau Community College, SUNY Farmingdale, and Locust Valley High School would be opened as shelters if necessary. Mangano asked those with pets to evacuate to the field house at Mitchell Park in Uniondale. Mangano also advised residents south of Sunrise Highway to begin looking for possible places to stay, especially if the storm track remains the same.
During a press conference on hurricane preparedness in Woodmere on Thursday morning, Mangano said, “No one can predict this, but the weather experts feel the hurricane will hit us. We need to heed that warning.” He advised citizens to use 911 for emergencies and situations needing immediate responses.
The Nassau County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) will be speaking with representatives from villages across the county on Friday morning to have a joint plan of action. The OEM, already in full swing, usually operates on a 120-hour advance timeline of a potential hurricane. Lawrence village administrator David Smollett said he has been in constant contact with local fire and police departments as well as the OEM.
“We’re in the midst of putting together our game plan,” he said at about 1:00 p.m. Thursday. Smollett said all boaters at the Lawrence Yacht Club have been notified of the impending storm and the dock master was securing boats and dock items throughout the day.
“I encourage residents to take this opportunity to ensure that they are prepared for the possibility of a hurricane or major storm in the near future,” said Representative Carolyn McCarthy in a statement.
Local stores have already felt the rush as many people have stocked up on essentials such as milk, eggs, water, batteries and flashlights.
“Today’s been pretty hectic,” said Giovanni Valerio, manager of Key Food in Woodmere. “Pretty much everything is already gone.”
Lowe’s Hardware in nearby Rosedale has already sold out of many supplies for the storm including tarps, sand, batteries, and lanterns.
“The number one coveted item today was our generators,” said store manager Earika Khan. “We’re sold out right now, but we’re expecting more this afternoon.”
The last hurricane to strike Long Island was Hurricane Gloria in 1986. That storm, a category one at landfall near Long Beach, packed winds within the same range with gusts that hit category three status. Gloria knocked out power to part of Long Island for almost two weeks as local crews struggled to clear the roads of fallen tree branches and debris. Hurricane Bob clipped the East End in 1991, but did not cause widespread damage across Long Island.
The OEM suggests families have a “go-kit” full of emergency supplies and essential documents. Nassau County advises these kits have essential medicine and medical information, first aid kits, battery powered radios and flashlights, change of clothes, and important documents in waterproof containers.
- American Red Cross (Nassau & Suffolk) - www.liprepares.org
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) - www.fema.gov
- Nassau County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) – www.nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/OEM/hurricane/
- National Hurricane Center – www.nhc.noaa.gov
- National Organization on Disability’s Emergency Preparedness Initiative – www.nod.org/emergency
- National Weather Service (NWS) - www.nws.noaa.gov
- New York State Emergency Management Office – www.semo.state.ny.us
Emergency Phone Numbers
- General Emergency – 911
- National Grid Gas Emergency - 1-800-892-2345
- Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) - 1-800-490-0075
- American Red Cross – (516) 747-3500
- Nassau County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) - (516) 573-0636
- Nassau County Police – (516) 573-7000
- Town of Hempstead – (516) 489-5000
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