Rockland officials are preparing for the worst as Hurricane Earl is expected to move into striking distance of the county Friday.
Orange & Rockland Utilities, Inc. declared a company-wide storm watch in anticipation of at least some heavy weather arriving Friday this weekend.
According to a statement released by the utility, O&R will be contracting power line and tree crews, underground line crews and gas department crews to assist at the first signs of weather-related damage.
Gordon Wren Jr., Rockland’s fire and emergency services coordinator, said that while we’re not expected to feel the brunt of Earl’s force, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that we could see some severe weather.
“This hurricane is most likely going to go to the east,” Wren said. “But all it takes is a few clicks to the west and it might be just like Floyd.”
In 1999, Hurricane Floyd edged the coastal states before striking the region.
Wren suggested that those concerned about emergency preparedness ought to consider purchasing a home generator. He also recommended that families plan for their own needs.
Homes with children or pets should have extra baby supplies or extra pet food available. Families that have a member reliant upon a medical device, ought to have a generator that can keep that device functioning in the event of a power failure
Wren also said that families who rely upon well water will need a generator if electricity is lost.
All homes should have extra water, extra food (preferably canned) and a manual can opener. It may also be a good idea to have extra flashlights, candles, portable radios and batteries nearby.
Wren also urged residents to have at least a half-tank of gas in their cars and to take out some extra emergency money.
“So many people rely on their debit cards,” Wren said. “But if the ATM machines aren’t working because they have no power, that piece of plastic isn’t going to help you buy things.”
Both Wren and Mike Donovan, a spokesman for O&R said that people should avoid downed power lines and notify the authorities of wires or trees that may have fallen during the storm.
Wren said that often people attempt to take care of trees themselves, but that power lines can be wrapped up in the branches.
O&R also released the following tips:
•Maintain a distance of at least 50 feet from downed wires and anything they are in contact with including puddles of water and fences. Supervise your children so that they are not in the vicinity and keep pets on a leash.
•If a fallen wire is draped over a car, do not approach the car and make rescue attempts. Remain a safe distance away, and try to keep the occupant of the vehicle calm. If possible, emergency personnel should handle the situation.
•Set your refrigerator and freezer controls to their coldest settings. Fill the bathtub with water.
•Have emergency equipment within reach – first aid kit, cell phone and important medications. Update your personal list of emergency phone numbers. Keep O&R’s toll-free number 1-877-434-4100 near the phone to report power outages.
•If you experience a power outage, don’t assume that O&R automatically knows about it or that someone else will report it. To be sure the outage is reported, please call O&R toll-free at 1-877-434-4100 to let O&R know what happened. The more information you can provide, the more O&R can help you.
•Remember, if the base station of your cordless phone plugs into the wall, your phone will be unusable during a power outage.
•Listen for storm alerts on the radio. In case of power outages, O&R will keep the stations updated on repair progress.
•Learn how to manually open and close any electrically powered garage door, security door or gate.