Both East Hampton and Southampton Towns have declared a state of emergency, and both towns as well as The Village of Sag Harbor are mobilizing staff, police and fire departments as the East End hunkers down in preparation for the landfall of Hurricane Irene, sometime in the very early morning on Sunday.
The category 1 hurricane is battering the coast of North Carolina this afternoon and moving steadily north. The eye of the 400-mile wide storm is predicted to hit western Suffolk or eastern Nassau County. Fire Island, as well as low lying areas of New York City have been evacuated and this morning, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne Holst has issues a mandatory evacuation of low lying and coastal areas in the town.
Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst signed a Declaration of a State of Emergency for the town of Southampton this morning, Saturday, according to a press release issued by Southampton Town Emergency Preparedness official Lt. Robert P. Iberger. This will allow local officials to take necessary actions today, including spurring the evacuation of town residents in low-lying areas.
“If you reside in a coastal area, a low-lying area of a mobile home you need to evacuate,” Lt. Iberger stated in the press release. A map of those prone living in areas to flooding can be viewed above.
According to Iberger, town fire districts will begin evacuating these neighborhoods according to a timetable beginning with Bridgehampton, Quogue and Westhampton at 10 a.m. this morning, August 27. North Sea is expected to begin evacuations at 1 p.m.
Emergency responders (Fire, EMS or PD) will be issuing the evacuations, which will continue throughout the day. However, Lt. Iberger recommends residents to assist Emergency Responders by voluntarily evacuating today as early as possible so as to avoid clogging roads. ”If you think you may be in an at-risk location, err on the side of caution and evacuate,” he urges. ”Residents who experienced ground water flooding back in March 2010 should evacuate until the storm passes.”
Pierson High School, 200 Jermain Avenue, Sag Harbor
East Hampton High School, 2 Long Lane, East Hampton
Hampton Bays High School, 88 Argonne Road, Hampton Bays
Riverhead High School, 600 Harrison Avenue, Riverhead
According to Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride, the Pierson High School shelter will open at 8 p.m. tonight. While the village has not issued a mandatory evacuation order for low lying areas yet, Mayor Gilbride said the fire department chiefs were currently assessing the situation and have already joined police efforts in contacting residents within those areas and advising them to find shelter elsewhere.
East Hampton Town has taken a similar stance. During a work session on Saturday morning, Supervisor Bill Wilkinson noted that requiring evacuation doesn’t mean the town can force people in low lying areas to leave, but that a reverse 911 call has been made to each of those residents urging their evacuation. Fire department officials will also go door to door, said Wilkinson, to warn those residents of the danger of staying in a low lying or coastal area as the storm is expected to result in massive flooding, heavy rains and wind damage across the East End.
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.
Beaches in East Hampton and Southampton have been closed and are being monitored by police and marine patrols to ensure people do not enter the beaches, which are already flooding to their parking lots.
In East Hampton, the Red Cross will open a shelter at East Hampton High School sometime on Saturday. Additional shelter will be opened at the Montauk Community Playhouse.
If going to a shelter bring a blanket, pillow, medicines, snacks, bottled water, reading materials, flashlight, extra, batteries, as well as personal items.
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).