First Selectman Gordon Joseloff today issued the following statement about Westport’s preparations for Hurricane Irene.
Westport is well along in its preparations for Hurricane Irene which, if the forecasts turn out to be accurate, could be one of the worst storms the town has experienced. We are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. It is of utmost importance that Westport residents pay very close attention to the forecasts and announcements that will be coming from our emergency management team.
Heavy rains, flooding, prolonged power outages and evacuations are likely to be part of this emergency. Those near the shoreline and along rivers and streams should make preparations now to evacuate and prepare their homes as best they can for flooding.
I was on several conference calls today with state emergency management and National Weather Service personnel and also met with our emergency management team. As a result, we are taking the following actions and making the following requests of Westporters:
- Westport will activate its Emergency Operations Center, 515 Post Road East, at mid-day Saturday,
- We will open an emergency evacuation center at Long Lots Elementary School, 13 Hyde Lane, at 6 p.m. on Saturday. Pets will be accepted; bring your own pet food and cages.
- Residents who are in flood-prone areas are urged to move their cars to higher ground before the rains begin to fall and to leave their homes well ahead of the storm, now predicted to make landfall some time on Sunday.
- Residents should be prepared for prolonged loss of power, stocking up on food, water, batteries and other emergency essentials.
- The Public Works Department is making sandbags and sand (make your own) available at its Sherwood Island Connector headquarters.
- The town website has been updated with the latest information about hurricane preparations. In addition, the town will use the Staples High School radio station, WWPT-FM, 90.3, to broadcast emergency announcements. Announcements will also go out via the CodeRed emergency telephone notification system (sign up on the town website) and via Twitter, account name ‘westportctgov.’
- It is highly likely an evacuation order will be issued for low-lying areas. But based on past experience, there will be those who will refuse to evacuate and prefer to ‘ride out’ the storm. They will do so at their own peril. They should be aware that our emergency services will not respond to last minute evacuation requests as waters rise, risking the lives of first responders.
- Beaches and marinas will be closed as the storm approaches. No swimming in the rip tides or surfing the waves will be permitted.
- We are working with the state to identify specified ‘debris management areas’ where debris from the storm will be taken.
Westporters should not underestimate the power of this storm and the devastation that could result. We will be doing all that we can to minimize damage and prevent loss of life. But it is up to each individual resident to help us do that by taking every precaution in advance that you can – including leaving town for safer areas.