As the town braces for a possible hit early next week by Hurricane Sandy, Westport emergency management officials on Thursday began preparing for an onslaught that forecasters say might rake the region with pounding rain, high tides and flooding, and damaging winds.
The town's emergency management team met Thursday and has been participating in webinars with the National Weather Service, said Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Andrew Kingsbury. The emergency management team is scheduled to convene again Friday, Kingsbury added.
Emergency management officials have not announced yet the activation of the town's emergency operations center. The EOC went into service last year during Tropical Storm Irene and the snowy nor'easter last October. Irene's impact cost the town about $516,000 in damage, equipment and labor expenses, according to a post-storm report produced by town emergency management officials.
An emergency preparedness guide produced by the town can be accessed at http://bit.ly/QIFIpM
Late Thursday afternoon, Westport EMS issued the following safety and preparedness tips:
- Medication supplies should be evaluated; refills, if needed, should be arranged for and picked up by the end of the weekend.
- An emergency "go kit" should be prepared in case evacuation is needed. Kits should include enough medications to last several days
- Patients on home oxygen are reminded that their oxygen generators are dependant on electric power supply to function, and it reasonable to assume that the area may have power outages during and following the storm. Patients without emergency home generators might want to consider temporarily relocating to residences of friends or family who have generators in case of CL&P power loss; the time to do so is in advance of the storm's arrival, as road conditions may rapidly deteriorate and make relocating impossible.
- Patients on home oxygen who cannot relocate to a location with an emergency generator should contact their home oxygen supply vendor to arrange for an extra supply of filled oxygen tanks to get them through at least 3 days use. Vendors, due to road conditions or over-stretching of resources, may not be able to rapidly respond during a storm or in subsequent days; the time to make such arrangements is now.
- Residents with emergency generators are reminded to only run them outside and away from the home; exhaust from generators run inside, including in garages, can cause illness and death from carbon monoxide poisoning
- Residents without emergency generators, whose water supply comes from wells, should pre-fill bathtubs with water which can then be used for drinking as well as flushing of toilets.
- Stay off the roads following a storm to allow crews to safely clear hazards.
- Remember that downed power lines should always be considered to be energized and an extreme hazard to life and limb, and should never be approached
- Residents are encouraged to register with www.nixle.com to receive emergency information and bulletins sent out by government and emergency services.
Although no one knows yet if Hurricane Sandy will hit this area, preparation and planning will help us all to get through the worst if it happens.
Westport EMS subscribes to the adage "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst," and encourages town residents to do the same with their own households.