Officials continue preparation for Hurricane Sandy's arrival
As Hurricane Sandy draws closer to the Northeast, officials continue to prepare for possible heavy rain and winds early next week.
As of Saturday, Bradford County can expect at least two to three inches of rainfall between late Monday, when the storm is expected to arrive in Pennsylvania, and its anticipated Thursday departure, said Brian Lovejoy, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Binghamton. Sandy was expected Saturday to continue traveling up the coast, making landfall around New Jersey late Monday or early Tuesday and then turning inland, Lovejoy said.
High winds are also a concern for the area. At the worst of the storm, expected to be Tuesday, winds were expected to be sustained at between 30 and 40 miles per hour, with gusts at 50 or 60 miles per hour. The winds "could be strong enough for tree problems and power outages," he said.
The NWS issued a flood watch Saturday for an area that includes Bradford County and Tioga County, N.Y., effective from Monday morning until Tuesday evening. Lovejoy said the heaviest rains and strongest winds were expected on those two days, with conditions anticipated to quiet down Wednesday.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo both issued declarations for their states Friday in advance of the storm. Cuomo declared a state of emergency Friday, while Corbett issued a proclamation of disaster emergency that mobilizes resources in the state in case they are needed.
Like states, municipalities are also taking precautions at the local level, something Athens Borough emergency management coordinator Scott Riley said was in response to last year's flooding following Tropical Storm Lee. Officials are erring on the side of caution "from the top down," he said. "You've got to have a plan in place."
Borough officials and crews began working at 7 a.m. Saturday to reinforce the Chemung and Susquehanna river levees and had light towers set up in case they needed to work into the night, Riley said.
Workers added stone to the Chemung River levee, a section of which eroded in last year's flood, to prevent topsoil added to the damaged section from washing out in a flood situation and leaving the levee vulnerable to further erosion. Jersey barriers and sandbags were added along the Susquehanna River, Riley said.
Borough officials held meetings Friday to discuss concerns and plan to continue to monitor the storm. "We're doing as much prep work as we can now so if the worst happens, we're ready for it," Riley said.
The borough will hold a public meeting Sunday at 6 p.m. in the Athens Area High School cafeteria regarding storm preparations, according to a release from the borough police department.
Sayre borough mayor Denny Thomas said he and members of the police department spent Saturday afternoon distributing flyers in East Sayre, where residents continue to rebuild from last year's flood. The flyers let residents know of the possible danger and encourage them to take precautions in the borough's lower-lying areas, Thomas said. "I would rather be proactive than reactive," he said.
Thomas said borough officials will meet at 5 p.m. Sunday in the borough's public works building on South Thomas Avenue to discuss further emergency procedures. The borough's website, www.sayrepa.org, will be continually updated, he said.
Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: email@example.com.