Gov. Deval Patrick has already declared a state of emergency, emergency crews are at the ready, and residents across Cape Ann and far beyond are preparing for the approach of Hurricane Sandy, which can be expected to being showing its calling card as winds pick up later today and into tonight.
Sandy was listed at carrying Category 1 storm this afternoon, packing winds of up to 80 miles per hour and moving northeast at 10 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami; it was about 395 miles south of New York City.
NOAA’s National Weather Service was projecting the storm to make landfall expected along the New Jersey coast late-day Monday, and then to continue northward well west of here, up into New York and even parts of Pennsylvania. The greatest storm effects being felt here on Cape Ann are expected to be felt Monday and Monday night into Tuesday morning, thanks to Sandy’s immense size — so massive it has led some wags to term it a “frankenstorm.” Sunday, Sandy’s hurricane force winds still extended roughly 100 miles from its center, while its lesser tropical storm-force winds reach across more than 700 miles. It is those winds that will be felt on Cape Ann tonight, even as the storm sits off the Carolina and southern New Jersey coast.
In our area, meteorologists are now forecasting sustained winds of 20-30 mph overnight tonight and into Monday, but with gusts of up to 70 miles per hour by later Monday and into Monday night.
Those winds are expected to bring seas of up to 30 feet, with significant storm surges that can produce coastal flooding Monday and Tuesday. The storm, being boosted by other weather systems from the west and northeast. The approach of Sandy carries an especially eerie reminder here on Cape Ann, given that Tuesday marks the 21st anniversary of the so-called “Perfect Storm” of 1991, which caused extensive damage along the coast and claimed the fishing boat Andrea Gail, which went down with six men aboard.
Agencies on all fronts say they are prepared to respond.
National Grid officials have added 10 percent more personnel to their crews for the storm time frame than they had last year — when the utility giant came under renewed criticism its response times to severn power outages across the region. And Massachusetts Emergency Management teams met Saturday and today to map their response plans as warnings about the storm’s approach went out across the state – including through electronic messaging boards along Route 128 and the Massachusetts Turnpike.
In Gloucester, city Public Health Director Noreen Burke said the city is poised to set up telephone help lines, with provisions for opening the city’s Emergency Operations Center, based at the former Fuller School and headed by Gloucester Fire Chief Eric Smith.
Burke also posted a series of tips for “residents and businesses in order to ensure that steps are taken to be as prepared as possible in the event the storm has a serious impact on our community,” she said.
Those tips include, from the Gloucester Emergency Response Team (CERT), including:
Stay informed by monitoring the storm via the media.
Clear clogged rain gutters. This storm brings the potential for torrential rain. Providing clear drainage will help prevent misdirected flooding.
Secure outdoor items such as lawn furniture, trash barrels, hanging plants, toys and awnings that can be broken or picked up by strong winds and potentially become a projectile.
Elevate articles in your basement that could be damaged from even minor flooding.
Keep your vehicles fully fueled.
Have a certain amount of cash available. If power is lost, ATMs may not be working.
Also, be sure to have a well-stocked family disaster kit available — stocked with:
Cell Phone, charger (there are also emergency crank or battery powered cell phone chargers) and headset so you can talk hands free.
Bottled water (1 gallon per person per day for drinking, plus an additional gallon for teeth brushing, bathing, cooking, etc.).
Battery-powered radio with extra batteries.
Flashlight and batteries.
Dry and canned foods and can opener (make sure the canned and packaged foods don’t have too much salt – they will make you more thirsty and with limited water around, that isn’t the best thing).
Disposable eating utensils, dinnerware and cooking tools.
Baby needs, including diapers, wipes and food.
Pet needs, food, water, collar and leash.
Medical supplies, including prescription medications, eyeglasses, contacts, etc.
Toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer and feminine needs.
Soap and toiletries.
Scissors and tweezers.
First aid kit.
Also, if your property sustains downed trees, limbs or other damage:
Do not attempt to move downed limbs until you are sure that there are no electric wires involved and that the cutting the limb will not result in it suddenly moving and possibly causing injury.
Should Cape Ann suffer substantial storm damage, you should be prepared to “shelter in place” for as long as 72 hours. If this is the case, please check on neighbors who may need assistance.