WATERBURY — Vermont Emergency Management on Sunday afternoon reported that state agencies continue to prepare for the impacts from Hurricane Sandy. Gov. Peter Shumlin has declared a State of Emergency for Vermont in advance of the storm. The designation will allow the state to use National Guard and other federal resources if needed.
The National Weather Service (NWS) reports that wherever the storm makes landfall, the main threat from the storm will likely be high winds beginning during the day Monday. NWS says 60-80 mile per hour wind gusts are expected along the Green Mountains and in the Northeast Kingdom.
“I want to stress — this is not another Irene,” Shumlin said in the Emergency Management report. “The main concern we have here is the wind. The wind will be strong enough to easily take down trees and power lines with them; so Vermonters should prepare for power outages over the next couple of days.”
Localized flooding is also possible where the rain is heaviest. Flooding is possible anywhere, but NWS says the southern half of Vermont is the most susceptible. The forecast can be found at http://www.erh.noaa.gov/er/btv/.
The Vermont Emergency Operations Center will be fully staffed on Monday morning and will remain open as long as necessary. State preparedness activities include:
• Chainsaw crews from the Agency of Natural Resources are on standby to help with clearing of debris.
• Swiftwater and technical rescue crews will be staged as necessary.
• State police mobile command posts are on standby for quick deployment when needed.
• State utilities have brought in extra line crews from out of state to help with restoration efforts.
• The National Guard is prepared to assist with tree clearing, swiftwater rescues, or any other missions deemed necessary.
• The Red Cross is prepared to open shelters should homes lose power for extended periods.
“Vermonters should continue to prepare for every contingency,” the governor said. “Clear storm drains, gutters, and culverts so water can drain properly — and make sure there’s nothing in the yard that can be blown around in high winds.”
If you come across a downed power line, never touch it — all power lines should be treated as if they are live at all times. When clearing downed trees be sure they are not in contact with power lines as trees can conduct electricity and you can be electrocuted.
If you lose power and use a generator make sure it is always run outdoors and is not blowing exhaust back into your home. Make sure smoke & carbon monoxide alarms are working and have fresh back up batteries in them.
Other suggested preparedness actions in advance of power outages for the public:
• Check flashlights and portable radios to ensure that they are working, and you have extra batteries. A battery powered radio is an important source of critical weather and emergency information during a storm.
• If your water supply could be affected by a power outage (a well-water pump system), fill your bathtub and spare containers with water. Water in the bathtub should be used for sanitation purposes only, not as drinking water. Pouring a pail of water from the tub directly into the bowl can flush a toilet.
• Set your refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings (remember to reset them back to normal once power is restored). During an outage, do not open the refrigerator or freezer door unnecessarily. Food can stay cold in a full refrigerator for up to 24 hours, and in a well-packed freezer for 48 hours (24 hours if it is half-packed).
• If you have medication that requires refrigeration, check with your pharmacist for guidance on proper storage during an extended outage.
• Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines when using a generator. Always use outdoors, away from windows and doors. Carbon Monoxide (CO) fumes are odorless and can quickly accumulate indoors. Never try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator directly into household wiring, a practice known as “backfeeding.” This is extremely dangerous and presents an electrocution risk to utility workers and neighbors served by the same utility transformer. It also bypasses some of the built-in household circuit protection devices.
• Make sure your smoke and carbon dioxide detectors have fresh batteries and are in working order.
• Be extra cautious when you go outside to inspect for damage after a storm. Downed or hanging electrical wires can be hidden by trees or debris, and could be live. Never attempt to touch or move downed lines, and keep children and pets away from them. Do not touch anything power lines are touching, such as tree branches or fences. Always assume a downed line is a live line. Call your utility company to report any outage-related problem.
For more preparedness tips visit: http://vem.vermont.gov/preparedness.
For road closures call 511 or visit: www.511vt.com.
Weather Forecast: www.weather.gov/btv
Vermont Emergency Management on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vermontemergencymanagement