While Hurricane Joaquin makes its way toward the Bahamas with a potential to hit Long Island early next week, Hempstead Town is preparing for a possible hurricane strike. While the degree of impact remains uncertain, town officials are taking steps to respond to damage that could accompany a major storm, as well as offering residents tips on dealing with the storm’s wrath.
“We want to provide our residents, especially seniors and other vulnerable residents, with essential resources and tips to prepare for the major storm that may occur in the upcoming days,” Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray said. “It is critical for each and every one of us to formulate a hurricane preparedness plan, and to be ready when and if the storm arrives.”
As the town makes ready for Joaquin, staff is focused on safeguarding residents. Hempstead Town officials are in contact with the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management, as well as the National Weather Service, the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Hurricane Center. Municipal vehicles are being fueled, equipment is being moved to staging areas and Bay Constable boats will be available if roads to the barrier beaches are flooded as a result of the storm. Trucks will be available to evacuate town staff from the barrier island if necessary.
Staff members are servicing tree removal equipment and chain saws, as well as drain cleaning equipment. Trucks and street sweepers are ready to go, and marina staff is removing town boats from the water.
Boat owners are urged to remove their vessels from marinas. If boat removal is not possible, owners are encouraged to secure dock lines, recharge batteries and take other appropriate safety precautions.
Already in place is Hempstead Town’s Swift 911 Emergency Notification System, which provides homes and businesses with recorded notifications via telephone, email or text message. Contact information in the Swift 911 database is based on phone directories and other publicly available sources. Update or add your contact information to the system by visiting www.toh.li/emergency-services/swift911-emergency-notification.
Town officials are reminding residents not to rake leaves into the street. This is critical during fall storms, as leaves can cause blockages in the storm drain system and result in flooding. Residents are also reminded to use caution when leaving their homes after the storm. Fallen trees often cause downed utility lines, which can present life-threatening hazards. Officials also request that residents follow any directives from emergency management personnel as the storm draws closer to ensure their safety.
As the storm approaches, Hempstead Town offers the following tips and guidelines for residents to consider:
Tips to keep in mind when a hurricane is predicted:
- Listen to local radio/TV stations for weather updates.
- Organize emergency supplies.
- Clear yard of loose objects (examples include outdoor furniture, trash cans, etc.)
- Secure your boat.
- Board windows and doors.
- Turn refrigerator/freezer to highest setting, opening only when necessary to maintain temperature in the event of a power outage.
Bear in mind that strong storms have historically affected essential services, including water, gas, electricity, sewage and phone. To prepare, Murray is offering a checklist of items for residents to include in a home survival kit.
Important groceries and items to have on hand:
- Battery-operated radio or a weather radio
- Bottled water
- Pre-moistened towelettes
- Apples (fruits)
- Peanut butter and jelly
- Applesauce (canned fruit)
- Canned food
- Filled prescriptions
- Flashlight with batteries or new “shake” flashlight
- Non-electric can opener
- First aid kit
- Toilet paper
- Zip lock bags (great way to protect documents)
- Cash, small bills (ATMS and credit cards might not work)
- Point of contact out of state (in case local communications do not work)
- Photocopy of valuable documents (in zip lock bag)
- Garbage bags
“Devising a plan can be a life-saver during severe weather,” Murray said. “I encourage residents to incorporate these valuable safety tips.”
For more information on hurricane safety, including coastal evacuation routes, important phone numbers and other tips, visit toh.li/public-safety-department/hurricane-safety.