School closings, County gets ready for Sandy's approach
With the expected onslaught of Hurricane Sandy looming, shoppers on Sunday in Bradford County stocked up on groceries and the county commissioners signed a Declaration of Emergency.
"We're taking the position that we don't want to underestimate any part of this storm, and we're trying to be very proactive at getting in front of this incident so everything is in place before we need it," said John Ambrusch, the county's emergency manager.
"Our public information officer is pushing out the information to all media outlets, and has made contact with all EMS officers and staff."
In a prepared statement, the county warned the public that winds will gradually pick up during the day today and "are expected to become very damaging, at their peak intensities from Monday night into Tuesday morning."
Sustained winds of at least 40 mph with gusts possible up to 60-75 mph were expected, along with a "significant threat of longterm, widespread power outages."
The county stated that it was expecting 2-3 inches of rainfall from the storm, and though river flooding was not expected to be a concern, there were worries about the possibility of flash flooding in small streams and run-off areas.
People in areas of normal flash flooding were told to be "especially aware of rapidly changing conditions."
Residents and officials were preparing for the worst.
An employee at the Sears Hometown store on Route 6 on the Golden Mile in Wysox said that the store had sold out of its 18 generators at noon Friday.
In Canton Borough's Emergency Operations Center in the borough hall, the words "disaster emergency" were scrawled on a whiteboard beside a now all-too familiar name: "Sandy." Emergency lighting was charging up, and the borough's generator was ready to be used this week, if needed. Sales of bottled water in the Tops supermarket in town were brisk as people prepared themselves, just in case. And in the Valley, efforts were underway to get the word out about the weather to residents.
One shopper at the Canton Tops, Rachael Klein of Canton Township, said she was stocking up on milk, bread, diapers, and "lots of soup." Mike Herman, another shopper, was buying juice and bread "like everyone else in town."
A manager at Tops said that bottled water was being sold so fast Sunday that the store went through four pallets, which he said was "more water than we've ever gone through at one time." He said more water was coming in today.
Canton Borough's Emergency Management Coordinator John Mosser said the borough's Emergency Operations Center "is ready to go." A meeting was planned for the staff and police today at the center.
Mosser said he talked to residents in the flood zone of town, which includes Lycoming Street and Springbrook Drive, and others, such as those in McCallum Manor and Cedar Ridge Apartments.
"We told them things wouldn't be good, and they should be prepared now. It could be (bad), just on what they (the media) are reporting."
Mosser said, "they were going to make arrangements to move around, if they had to. They were going to do something."
Athens Borough emergency management coordinator Scott Riley said municipalities were taking precautions at the local level, 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, and leaving the levee vulnerable to further erosion. Jersey barriers and sandbags were added along the Susquehanna River.
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 scheduled a public meeting at 6 p.m. Sunday 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 were scheduled to 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.
Here is the forecast from the National Weather Service in Binghamton, N.Y.
- Monday: Rain. The rain could be heavy at times. High near 52. Windy, with a north wind 13 to 18 mph increasing to 27 to 32 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 90 percent. New precipitation amounts between a half and three quarters of an inch possible.
- Monday night: Rain. The rain could be heavy at times. Low around 48. Very windy, with a north wind 38 to 41 mph, with gusts as high as 55 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100 percent. New precipitation amounts between 1 and 2 inches possible.
- Tuesday: Rain. The rain could be heavy at times. High near 51. Very windy, with an east wind 33 to 40 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100 percent. New precipitation amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.
- Tuesday night: Showers. Low around 39. Breezy, with a southeast wind 20 to 25 mph decreasing to 10 to 15 mph in the evening. Chance of precipitation is 90 percent. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
- Wednesday: Showers likely. Cloudy, with a high near 46. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.
The Bradford County Department of Public Safety provided the following tips on measures to take before, during and after an emergency:
- Stay informed: get information from reliable sources, such as local officials and agencies.
- Create an emergency kit. Include contact names and numbers of family.
- Check flashlights to make sure they work and have extra batteries.
- Make plans to secure your property.
- Bring in or secure all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans - anything that is not tied down.
- Listen to the radio and/or television for information.
- In anticipation of a power outage, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep the doors closed.
- Stay away from doors and windows, and keep window drapes or blinds closed.
- Continue to listen to the news for the latest weather updates.
- If evacuated, only return to your residence when officials say it is safe.
- Drive only if necessary and if roads are covered with water - turn around, don't drown. Stay off streets. If you must go out, watch for fallen objects, downed trees, and downed wires. Keep away from any downed or dangling power lines and report them to the power company.
- After the storm, walk carefully around your property to check for damage.
- Use battery-powered flashlights, never candles or open flame lanterns
- Never use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours.
Staff writer Amanda Renko contributed to this story.School closings
Due to the expected inclement weather from Hurricane Sandy, area schools announced the following closures/early dismissals on their websites:
- Athens Area School District - closing at noon today
- Wyalusing Area School District schools - closed today
- Northeast Bradford School District - closed today. There will not be any after school activities.
- Waverly Central School District - shortened session with all students dismissed at 11:30 a.m. today
- Towanda Area School District - dismissing early today. The dismissal times are as follows: J Andrew Morrow, 11:50 a.m.; Towanda Elementary School, 12 p.m.; and Towanda Junior-Senior High School,12:10 p.m.
- Troy Area School District - closed today
- Sayre School District - early dismissal today. Snyder Elementary will be dismissed at noon. Sayre High School will be dismissed at 12:15 p.m.
- North Rome Christian School - closed today and Tuesday