Preparing For The Worst

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.

23 responses to “Preparing For The Worst

  1. Gordon has done his CYA. After Katrina this is standard procedure for public officials. Hope he’s overly pessimistic.

  2. Jim,

    What would you have said if he hadn’t?

  3. More importantly, the evacuation order should not come near high tide, as has happened in the past. High tide is 10:30a and 10:50p Saturday, and 11:20a and 11:40p Sunday. Remember that salt-water floods only last a few hours, so unless you are going to be face-on to the waves, you *might* be OK to ride it out. But Gordon is right – don’t expect anyone to rescue you if you decide to be brave and crazy.
    I do wish that they’d turn the power off more methodically to reduce the possibility of fires or injury.

  4. National Weather Service notes that the storm surge could be 4-8 feet higher than the astronomical tides (new moon)

    • Watching and Waiting...

      Does anyone know if in the Long Lots shelter whether the pets will be in a separate section? I like the idea of pets being welcome, but being a severe asthmatic/allergy person to cats, if everyone is mixed, that renders the shelter unusable. Joseloff’s statement wasn’t clear on that, so trying to make plans now in case evacuation is wise but we find we can’t use the shelter because of the pets…

  5. Arthur Champlin

    Better safe than sorry. But the media and various govenmental agencies tend to scare more people than help them. Gordon seems to have a steady hand on the helm, however. Stay safe and not stupid.

  6. I would think it is quite like that we will AT LEAST see a repeat of the Nor’easter in the early 90s when the water was coming over the top of the wall along Compo Beach. That’s the rising water part. Then we have the 6 – 10 inches of rain part, and we know how and where Westport floods when we see really big rains. And then there is the wind part – and we know from March 2010 what that does to us, so I expect to lose power. If the impact is less, then my expectations have been exceeded. My generator is ready, my chainsaw is freshly sharpened, and we’ll do just fine.

  7. So, if you live near salt water, will you be evacuating? I lived on Saugatuck Island for 13 years and enjoyed many hurricane parties there. Never left, even when the police brought the duck boat out to provide further encouragement.

    • Stupid is as stupid does, Mama used to say.

      • It’s not stupid, it’s crazy. And it’s lots more fun. To be fair, I wasn’t there for the December 1992 storm, which might have changed my mind.
        Either way, if you live inland, your opinion doesn’t matter. You worry about the trees and the rivers. And call me a fool in the morning.
        I was hoping for responses from people who live a few feet above the high-tide line.

  8. I think you do what you want to do, you want to stay, then stay. But keep in mind that the rescue workers have families too, and it’s not fair to jeapardize them to save you because you want to have a cool party. I’m right there with you, I love a good storm, but I take responsibility for that and don’t want any heroics to save me. That being said, when faced with doom, I am sure I would cry out for help. And therein lies the dilemma. Save yourself, and you save others too.

    • The Dude Abides

      Talk to the good folks from New Orleans about “weathering” the storm. Half of them that died would have been alive if they listened to those who said get the hell out. So get the hell out!! You and Laz can have your party at a shelter. If it is a bust, you have a laugh and not a funeral.

  9. I heard from a friend who may be even crazier than I, and after reviewing this morning’s reports, he said he’d get out. So perhaps this one is the real deal. Some will ride it out, and others will head for the hills. Do what feels right for yourself and your family.

  10. Has anyone yet heard if the long lots shelter will be separating the pets from people with severe allergies? We are recommended to evacuate but cannot go there if will be exposed to cats…

  11. If you see something that you are allergic to separate yourself from it.

    • Yes that is the issue. Unfortunately if the pets and the people are all in the gymnasium together that isnt an adequate separation. So to adequately separate must avoid the shelter even though in an evacuation area…hence the concern…

  12. Cat people have no grasp.

    • Not a cat person – don’t have one. But if you are making an issue about your animal “allergies” seriously take a pill or go to a hotel, find a friend – don’t give people with pets a hard time. I have always found people who have a problem with animals to be creepy. I know plenty of people with allergies who just deal. If people need a safe place to go with their pets let them. Don’t be the complainer!

      • I find people who live with animals creepy. And their houses stink. Leave them an extra bowl of food and leave the shelters to the taxpayers.

  13. I am one of those people with allergies. My allergies are classified as critical. I was diagnosed with allergies before having allergies became a trend.

    A person with allergies can be in the same gymnasium as someone with a cat; if you have cat allergies, you simply: don’t pet the cat, and you don’t stay in a non-ventilated and warm room with the cat.

  14. Time to get into the car and take a trip to a Vermont motel. Shelters ain’t the Ritz.