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Newton mayor declares state of emergency, will tour city Monday

Posted by Derek McLean  August 28, 2011 05:15 PM

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Newton Mayor Setti Warren and key members of his staff on Monday will tour areas of the city impacted by Irene, after the tropical storm caused flooding, damaged trees, and left many residents without power.

Warren, who declared a state of emergency in the city Sunday, said he will begin the tour at 10 a.m. Monday.

"The Department of Public Works and Parks and Recreation are out in force today in an effort to respond to flooding, fallen tree limbs, and other hurricane-related issues,'' Warren said in a statement around 11 a.m. announcing the state of emergency. "Police and fire have increased staff levels for the day."

The city of Newton has updated the storm information on its website. For tips and updates from the city, go here.

"If Monday is your regular trash collection day, please do not place your barrels curbside until early Monday morning, before 7AM," the site says. Trash and recycling collection for Monday is currently on schedule, but any changes will be posted on the website.

"With high winds expected, many tree limbs and wires are likely to go down. Please consider all wires live and dangerous, and should not be touched or approached. Down wires should be reported to The City of Newton's combined Fire and Police dispatch at any time by calling 617-796-2100. That number is reachable 24/7."

As Hurricane Irene barreled toward the region Friday, Newton Mayor Setti Warren urged residents to stock up on supplies, batten down the lawn furniture, and stay tuned for updates over the weekend.

‘‘We have advised all of our residents to stock up with supplies for 48 hours, ensure that any yard equipment and furniture is stored away,’’ Warren said in an interview. ‘‘Stay tuned to local news, as well as our city website.’’

Warren said he has met with key staff from all city departments to ensure the appropriate steps are being taken in advance to the hurricane.

At a press conference at City Hall, fire chief Bruce Proia said he was beefing up staffing and setting up specialized vehicles with generators, pumps, saws and other equipment.

‘‘In the event that you do lose cellphones or lose phone usage, the fire boxes on the street are a failsafe method,’’ Proia said. ‘‘If you want to report an emergency, you pull that box and a direct notification will be sent to dispatch and you can get a response.

Newton officials will monitor the storm throughout the weekend and is prepared to open shelter as needed. To find out if a shelter is opened, residents can visit the city website or call the police dispatch line at (617) 796- 2100.

‘‘What we hope is for people to stay in their homes. If they can't stay in their homes, the next step would be to go to a relative’s, a friend’s, or a neighbor’s house,’’ said Dori Zaleznik, Health and Human Services Commissioner. The city has blocked off some hotel rooms, which would be paid for by individuals who needed them, she said.

‘‘So only if all of that capacity were overwhelmed would we consider opening a shelter,’’ she said.

Residents can sign up for the city’s Emergency Call list, which may be used to notify residents of important updates. To sign up, visit the website and click on the “Emergency Phone Call” icon on the right hand side to add your number.

Also on the city website, residents can receive tips from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), to prepare for the hurricane, protect their home and learn how to maintain communications in the event of a power outage. Residents can find this information by clicking on the red bar atop of the website, which will also provide news and information about the hurricane as it passes.

During regular business hours, residents can contact the City of Newton at (617) 796-1000. According to the mayor’s office, the hours may be extended into the weekend, depending on the severity of the storm.

Derek McLean can be reached at Follow us on Twitter: @NewtonUpdate.

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