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Hurricane Irene Downgraded to Category 2 Storm as Towns Begin Addressing Evacuation Measures

Posted on 26 August 2011

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Irene may be the goddess of peace in Greek mythology, but for over 60 million residents on the eastern seaboard bracing for the now category 2 Hurricane Irene, she has brought little tranquility.

By Friday afternoon, Irene was battering the coast of South Carolina, the 400-mile wide storm expected to bring havoc to the region as well as coastal Virginia, New Jersey and New York, where Mayor Michael Blomberg has already issued a mandatory evacuation of low lying areas within the five boroughs.

Fire Island is also being evacuated in preparation for the storm’s inevitable landfall somewhere on the coast of New York or Long Island.

On Friday afternoon, East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson announced a voluntary evacuation of all town residents.

“Which means, if you want to leave do so as soon as possible to minimize traffic and safety problems,” said town officials in an announcement listed on the town’s website.

The town has also encouraged all local businesses to prepare themselves, and their clientele for Irene, which is expected to make landfall sometime on Sunday near New York City.

According to predictions by meteorologists, Irene may be a tropical storm by the time it reaches New York, however, local and state officials are bracing for damaging winds, extreme surf conditions, local flooding and aggressive currents.

Tomorrow morning, at 10 a.m. East Hampton Town will host a work session focused on the hurricane and the evacuation process.

Southampton Town officials also released a statement on Friday stating it was “imperative that residents begin to prepare now, while there is time to stock up on supplies, take measures to protect homes, and clearly think through how to protect family and loved ones.”

Town officials said residents in low lying areas within half a mile of the ocean or bay should plan to evacuate as their homes lie in flood zones.

The course of the storm, officials warned, may lead to a mandatory evacuation on Saturday morning.

“If you have experienced flooding in the past whether from coastal flooding or from rain events, you should evacuate until the hurricane has gone by,” said Southampton Town Police in the release. “If you live in a trailer or mobile you will have to evacuate.”

Town police suggested that residents should arrive at the location they plan to weather Irene in by 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Beaches in East Hampton are also expected to be closed starting tomorrow morning. By mid-day on Friday, at Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett, surf had already surged almost to the parking lot, lifeguards positioned at the edge of the lot while handfuls of residents played in tidal pools on what was a crystal clear day marked by blue skies.

Low lying areas of East Hampton like Lazy Point and Ditch Plains in Montauk will likely be encouraged to leave their homes like residents of Sag Harbor Village in low lying areas, by fire department officials.

In East Hampton, the Red Cross will open a shelter at East Hampton High School sometime on Saturday. Additional shelters will be opened at the Montauk Community Playhouse and in Sag Harbor at Pierson High School.

In Southampton Town the Public Shelter will be the Hampton Bays High School located at 88 Argonne Rd. That shelter will begin accepting occupants until after 10:00 AM.  For those with animals, Southampton Town Animal Control Officers will be available to take pets to an off-site location.  However, residents are urged to board their animals elsewhere as space is limited in the animal shelters.

Suffolk County will open a pet-friendly shelter in the Woodland Building at the Eastern Campus of Suffolk County Community College, located at 121 Speonk-Riverhead Rd in Riverhead.

The Hampton Bays Senior Center located at 25 Ponquogue Avenue in Hampton Bays is a designated special needs shelter for residents who require medical assistance.

If you do have to go to a public shelter it is recommended that you bring a pillow, blanket, flashlight & batteries, games for children if you have children, books, magazines, a change of clothes, toiletries, medicines, bottled water, extra batteries, a folding chair, as well as other personal supplies. 

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