By: Enterprise Staff
Information from around the web with tips on preparing for, tracking, and responding to Hurricane Irene:
National Weather Service advisories: Reports on the location, strength, and trajectory of the storm, updated every three hours by the federal weather service.
National Weather service Massachusetts office: Updates on how the storm is effecting the Commonwealth.
Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency: Resources and information from the state agency in charge of emergency planning and response, including links to traffic cameras and advisories.
Town web sites: Updates on local advisories.
Barnstable County Regional Emergency Planning Committee: Updates from the Cape-wide committee.
Cape Cod traffic plan (pdf)
Cape Cod’s regional shelters include Sandwich High School on Quaker Meetinghouse Road and the Massachusetts Military Reservation (Upper Cape); Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School at 210 Station Avenue in South Yarmouth, which is pet-friendly (Mid-Cape).
Area shelters are:
- Barnstable: the Barnstable Middle School, Barnstable High School (the primary town shelter); and the Horace Mann Charter School.
- Bourne: the Bourne Middle School, Bourne Veterans Memorial Community Center (primary), and the Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School (primary).
- Falmouth: Lawrence School (primary).
- Mashpee: Mashpee High School (primary) and the Quashnet School.
- Sandwich: the Forestdale School, Oak Ridge School, and the Sandwich Human Services Building.
Tips for before, during, and after the storm:
Before The Storm
• Pay attention to the news for the latest information on an approaching hurricane. If a hurricane watch is issued, that means hurricane conditions are possible within 36 hours. A hurricane warning indicates hurricane conditions are expected within 24 hours;
• Assemble a hurricane preparedness kit in anticipation of a major storm. A good portion of this kit—a three-day supply of nonperishable food that can be prepared without cooking, three gallons of water per person, first-aid supplies, fresh batteries, a flashlight, and a battery-powered radio—can be prepared well in advance of a storm. Other recommended items: essential prescription medications, bedding (sleeping bags, pillows, blankets), personal hygiene items (deodorant, toothpaste, et cetera), money (cash, checks, travelers’ checks, credit or debit card), spare eyewear, and any necessary special items for young, elderly, or disabled family members;
• Households with pets should also stock up on food and extra water, and have a pet carrier ready to transport the animal should evacuation become necessary;
• Should the media announce a hurricane watch or warning, the Red Cross recommends additional preparatory steps: fuel up the car, charge all cellphones, and locate and map out routes to local shelters, in case authorities call for an evacuation;
• Homeowners should remove any lawn furniture, outside decorations, appliances such as barbecue grills, trash cans, and anything else that could be picked up by high winds and store these items inside;
• The Red Cross does not recommend taping windows to prevent them from breaking, but instead recommends covering windows with hurricane shutters or pre-cut half-inch plywood. To expedite the process, the plywood can be pre-drilled and anchors can be installed around windows;
• Homeowners should also find out if they live in a SLOSH (Sea, Lake, and Overland Surges from Hurricanes) zone. According to the Cape Cod Commission, more than 95,000 coastal homes are in a SLOSH zone, an area particularly vulnerable to flooding due to a storm surge, the wall of water that precedes an approaching hurricane;
• Residents and visitors particularly concerned about riding a storm out and who wish to evacuate the area before it hits are encouraged to do so as early as possible. According to information contained in the Cape Cod Emergency Traffic Plan, in the event of an approaching hurricane access to the Bourne and Sagamore bridges would be restricted to prevent local and off-Cape traffic from accessing the Cape’s two major highways: Route 6 and Route 28. Traffic would be redirected to other access points that would allow for a freer flow of all traffic on those highways. The Massachusetts State Police would handle this redirection, assisted by information road signs and constant media updates. Access would be restricted further as conditions worsen. Should winds hit gusts of 80 miles per hour, the US Army Corps of Engineers is authorized to close the bridges to “high profile” vehicles, such as tractor-trailers, buses, and RVs. Should winds hit sustained speeds of 80 MPH or greater, the bridges would be closed off completely.
During The Storm
• When the storm hits, do not go outside until the storm has completely passed. The Red Cross urges people not to venture outside while the eye of the storm passes as storm conditions can return very quickly. The only exception is in the event of a mandated evacuation to a local emergency shelter;
• During a storm, roads may be rendered inaccessible by debris, fallen power lines, or flooding could hamper first responders, so the Red Cross advises against using candles as a source of light or using a gas stove or barbecue grill to cook food, thus avoiding the possibility of a fire.
After The Storm
• The danger does not end once local TV and radio stations declare the emergency officially over as there may be downed power lines on the property or in the street. Report any downed lines to police or NStar immediately and do not attempt to move or navigate around them;
• Evacuees should wait until they have been cleared to go home before doing so. Upon return homeowners should check the home and property for damage, and carefully record any significant damage for the insurance company.