Orangetown emergency responders, department heads and town officials met Friday afternoon to continue preparations for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy, most likely Monday morning.
"Any time before any kind of weather emergency, you have information enough to know we need to be planning," Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart said. "The town convenes the key players, which is a group of about 25 people or so who have a role in emergency planning, the cleanup effort or documentation and administration."
Orangetown Police Chief Kevin Nulty and Officer Hugh Johnson briefed the emergency management team on the latest tracking reports regarding the storm.
"The focus is on the police for emergency response and highway (department) for keeping roads clean," Stewart said. "With the ground saturated with water and leaves still on the trees, high winds will cause tree damage. I urge all town residents to take good care of themselves and their neighbors and pay close attention to the weather as the town mobilizes to protect safety and restore services."
Part of that is sharing information, such as the customized map of road closures that the Orangetown Highway Department uses.
"It's very innovative, so we can all see in real time the road closures," Stewart said. "The ambulance corps can look if they need to detour on the way to help somebody. The information is accessible to the county and state, highway and police."
Orangetown plans to open its Emergency Operations Center in the town hall at 8 a.m. Monday, which will coordinate communication among representatives of town departments, fire and ambulance services and local schools. The town hall will also be available as a "short-term comfort station" for residents needing shelter, water or other aid. Stewart said the center could be opened sooner, depending on when the storm hits.
Other preparations include checking that all town vehicles and backup generators are fully fueled, distributing sand bags to locations likely to suffer from flooding and preparing to document storm-related costs and damage to the town.
"Staffing commitments are in place for response," Stewart said.
Stewart's office issued a release Friday with the following suggestions for residents:
- Call Orangetown Police at 845-359-3700 to report safety hazards, or if you need help. (The main number for the town hall is 845-359-5100.)
- Pay close attention to weather advisories and plan for power loss by having adequate supplies of water, nonperishable food, medications, batteries and other necessities. See www.Orangetown.com for safety guidelines.
- Do not take risks that may create an additional burden on emergency responders if you get hurt or cause an accident.
Orangetown posted a list of recommended emergency supplies and key websites to find more information here.
Some suggestions include:
- Cell phones and laptop computers fully charged in advance
- Flashlights and batteries.
- Enough non-perishable food for a minimum of three days
- Water for a minimum of three days
- Medications for three days
- Manual can opener
- Heating equipment and fire extinguisher
- Special items needed to care for infants and elderly
- Extra glasses, contact lenses and solution
- Identification, insurance information, cash and credit cards where they can be easily retrieved
- Extra house and car keys
- Sleeping bags, bedding and blankets for everyone in the home
- Rain gear and sturdy shoes
- Duct Tape
- Waterproof matches
- Plastic containers
- Pen and paper
- Garbage bags
First Aid kit items include:
- Over the counter medication (pain reliever, anti-diarrhea medicine)
- Sterile adhesive bandages and gauze pads
- First aid manual
- Antiseptic ointment
- Latex gloves
- Tongue depressors
"It's a big storm. We've had these before and history tells you that you have to be prepared," Orangetown Police Chief Kevin Nulty said. "The biggest issue people have is hewn they lose power."
Stewart and Nulty both stressed the importance of residents being prepared to help themselves and their neighbors first as the town's emergency responders work to help those who need it most.
"I encourage people to take care of themselves and take care of each other and not take risks that would result in more to do for emergency responders," Stewart said.
Continue to monitor the town website and check back with Patch for information regarding the storm's impact on Orangetown.