With potentially powerful Hurricane Sandy lumbering towards the East Coast, seaside communities in Massachusetts are already taking precautions.
The storm’s path is not certain, and it may well veer away, but nonetheless, officials in towns such as Plymouth, Scituate, Hull, and Newburyport are assessing their level of preparedness.
In Plymouth, volunteers are being contacted to find out if they are available to serve at shelters at Plymouth South High School and Plymouth Middle School, if needed.
In Scituate, in anticipation of the impending storm, the Department of Public Works is shoring up the seawall that was breached in a December 2010 storm. Officials there say the wall should be secure by Friday.
Officials met in Hull Wednesday to go over how to best keep the public updated on developments.
“We are taking the concern seriously, and are getting the message to people about establishing priorities, staying in contact with family members, and looking at finding alternative housing,” if that’s necessary, said Fire Chief Robert Hollingshead. “The town is not the answer to all the problems, but basically we are trying to prepare everyone through social media and the town’s cable network.”
Hollingshead said the town is checking its equipment and supplies to make sure everything is working and they’re well-stocked in case of a major storm.
On Plum Island, a region that has been susceptible to erosion from high seas, the Department of Public Works is checking storm drains to make sure they are clear, and removing metal ramps that lead out to the beaches, ramps that were put down to prevent erosion from foot traffic. Newburyport and Newbury are working together and will meet with the US Coast Guard in coming days to evaluate emergency evacuation plans if needed, said Thomas Howard, Newburyport City Marshal and Emergency Management Service director.
Peter Judge, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, said this morning that the agency has been in constant contact with the National Weather Service to get updates on the storm’s path. The agency has already contacted cities and towns throughout the commonwealth, directing them to assess their preparedness, to go over their checklists, and make sure things such as generators and backup fuel are ready.
Judge said current models have the storm arriving in the state by late Sunday, Oct. 28, the same day in 1991 that the devastating “Perfect Storm” arrived.
“Right now, we’re approaching this as a statewide event, because there is some uncertainty about the direction of the storm,” Judge said.
“We don’t know if the biggest impact will be coastal flooding or flooding in the Berkshires…we have to play everywhere the same. We’re not looking at this as just a coastal event, but no matter where the storm goes, there will likely be some sort of impact relative to high seas,” he said.