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Hingham prepares for "significant impact" of Irene

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  August 26, 2011 03:17 PM

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Hingham officials are taking as many precautions as they can to prepare for Sunday’s storm, which is expected to bring tides of 13-14 feet to the Hingham coast.

According to Town Administrator Ted Alexiades,it’s all hands on deck for what is expected to be a significant storm for the town.

“What we’ve reiterated was to continue to the public to take this seriously, we do expect it to hit, and it will be a significant event for us,” Alexiades said. “We have to keep people aware that these are big events and can have disastrous consequences if we’re not prepared…but in this case we are very confident that it will be a significant impact to the town.”

As a result, all department heads and safety personnel are prepared for Sunday; the Emergency Operations Center will be open starting Sunday morning and will be fully staffed.

Additionally, shelters may be opened if necessary. Town officials have also secured commitments from contractors to help clear debris, spaces for which have already been made at the transfer station.

The light plant will have four crews on standby starting Sunday morning, and DPW has additional pumps available if need be.

The main concern is with downed trees, Alexiades said.

“Hingham has a rich patina of trees in our community – we’re Tree City USA, and I think everyone loves that we have it, this is the downside. With sustained winds, 40-90 mph, that’s not what trees like, so we expect to see the bulk of damage from trees,” he said.

Town officials are cautioning people to stay away from downed power lines as well, as they could be live wires.

In addition to the sustained winds the town is expecting, there are also flooding concerns.

According to Hingham Harbormaster Ken Corson III, people are pulling boats out of the water, conducting short hauls (or putting boats on nearby land just for the duration of the storm), and further securing boats that will stay in the marina.

“We have a lot of people pulling out their boats...We strongly recommended it,” Corson said. “We’re trying to get all boats out of the water.”

High tide is expected at 11 a.m. and around 11 p.m., although Corson said he wasn’t too concerned with storm surges.

“It appears at this moment that the highest point of the tide in storm surge doesn’t correlate with the strongest window of the storm. But I’m anticipating high tides of 13, 14 feet, which is a bit above normal. We’re definitely anticipating some coastal flooding,” he said.

In the past, the area on 3A near the bathing beach has flooded, as has the Town Pier.

Still, being on the east side of the storm means sustained winds, but the town is prepared for whatever strikes.

“We’re ready for the wind, ready for the rain, and if there are any changes, be ready for it all,” Corson said.

The town warnings come on top of those of state and local officials, who are urging residents to stay current on the storm tracking and be mindful of preparation.

US Representative Bill Keating even met with the Coast Guard today to further discuss how the South Shore might react to the storm’s wake.

“As residents of a coastal district, we all know the many benefits of living on the ocean, and with those benefits come some risks,” Keating said in a release. “Hurricane Irene is a perfect example of this, and all residents should prepare for her arrival…I urge all Bay Staters in the 10th district to contact my office if you suffer any damage or have been displaced from your home.”

Keating encouraged residents to plan routes to emergency shelters if necessary, buy supplies for a Hurricane Emergency kit, and to generally be prepared.

“I hope all residents make it through this weekend safely and that Irene’s impact on our beautiful area is minimal at worst,” Keating said.

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