A tornado watch is in affect for Long Island as Hurricane Irene made landfall in New Jersey Sunday morning, its bands whipping Nassau and Suffolk counties and virtually the whole of New England with landfall expected in New York City sometime between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.
As of this morning, according to the National Hurricane Center the category 1 hurricane was carrying sustained winds of 75 miles per hour and moving north-northeast at 18 miles per hour.
The storm is expected to bring damaging winds and rain, and a treacherous storm surge, which could raise water levels by four to eight feet, is predicted to cause massive flooding in low lying areas.
Yesterday, Southampton, East Hampton and Sag Harbor Village officials all declared a state of emergency in response to the storm, with Southampton Town officials calling for a mandatory evacuation of low lying areas within the township. East Hampton and Sag Harbor Village officials maintained a voluntary evacuation status, however, firefighters were dispatched to homes in the region in low lying sections of the town and village, as well as communities prone to flooding, and residents were urged to take higher ground, according to Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride.
Shelters were opened from Hampton Bays to Montauk, although the time to evacuate has passed, local officials warn, and residents are being encouraged to stay indoors, wherever they may be.
Important numbers to keep on hand are: The American Red Cross of Suffolk County, 631-924-6700, the Suffolk County Office of Emergency Management, 631-852-4900, the Long Island Power Authority, 1-800-490-0075 (to report down electric lines or an electrical emergency and National Grid, 1-800-490-0045 (to report the need for emergency gas service).