Prep for Hurricane Irene Today, Experts Say
Local experts encourage people to get what they need to weather the impending storm now.
Editor's Note: Patch will cover the storm impact throughout the weekend. Patch welcomes your photos and observations. Send to email@example.com
Hurricane Irene is coming and residents really should spend some time today getting ready for the heavy rains and high winds that are on their way, according to local experts.
People should do the types of things they are hearing on the radio, like making sure their flashlights have batteries and the gas tanks in their cars are topped off, says Kevin Farnish, emergency management coordinator for the Borough of Emmaus.
Farnish says that potential power outages are probably the big thing that borough residents will face and that the biggest concern from the storm is the high winds being predicted.
It’s not that Emmaus has never experienced high winds before, he explains, but in a typical thunderstorm, wind gusts hit the 75-100 mph range for about 5 minutes. Depending on the path Irene takes, he says, Emmaus Patch could be pummeled with intense winds of 60 mph or more for a period of five to seven hours.
In terms of the rainfall expected, Farnish says the borough is in pretty good shape in terms of the risk of street flooding. There are a few low-lying areas, like the 10th Street underpass over by the Pizza Hut, that emergency personnel will be keeping an eye on. “And, there’s always the potential for a flash flood anywhere,” he says.
In Upper Milford Township, on the other hand, flooding is -- as always -- a concern, according to Township Manager Dan DeLong, who encourages residents to be smart in terms of their reaction to Irene.
The people who live here know where we’re prone to local flooding, DeLong says. “It’s always a house or two on a particular street and it’s always the same ones. The residents know the drill. Hopefully they will evacuate sooner rather than later if they know they are in an area where their house is prone to flooding.”
Although the township can make provisions to put people up, DeLong says that residents with flooding issues typically go to the house of a friend or a relative to wait out bad weather. “In the past, we’ve never had people who’ve needed it,” he says.
In preparation for possible power outages, Lehigh County Emergency Services has been checking to make sure emergency generators are full of fuel and ready at key sites such as radio towers, transmitters and hospitals, said Emergency Services Director Tom Nervine.
“Certainly there’s concerns anytime you have something of this magnitude,” he said. “No one seems to know what track this thing is going to take.”
Each municipality’s emergency management coordinator usually knows the locality’s trouble spots for flooding and the county coordinates communication between them and the state and other agencies on help that’s needed, Nervine said.
The county is also looking at evacuation capabilities in coordination with the American Red Cross of the Greater Lehigh Valley, should flooding be severe.
Nervine suggests that residents assemble what he called a “72-hour kit,” in which they gather essentials needed for a prolonged power outage, such as flashlights with batteries, a battery-powered radio, food, jugs of water, medication and cash.
“Think about what would happen if the power in your home was going to be out for a week and make up a kit accordingly,” he said.
The county 911 Center fielded 350 calls over 45 minutes after the earthquake Tuesday and Nervine said people shouldn’t call unless it’s a real emergency and should stay off the line so the phone system doesn’t get overloaded.