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Hurricane Sandy: MA Officials Step Up Emergency Services

Monday, October 29, 2012


Governor Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency for the Commonwealth this weekend and called on all schools and businesses to close on Monday when Hurricane Sandy is expected to tear through the region.

President Barack Obama signed an emergency declaration for the Bay State on Sunday, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate disaster relief efforts in the Commonwealth and mobilize whatever resources necessary to lessen the impact of the storm.

Statewide Shut Down

Members of the Massachusetts National Guard have been mobilized, and a number were working in coastal towns Sunday evening filling sandbags in preparation for the coming storm surge.

State office buildings have been closed for Monday, and the Governor said that all non-emergency state workers have been told to stay at home.

"I am encouraging private employers to follow our lead and have their workers stay home as well," Patrick said.

First Day Jurors for all Massachusetts courts have also been canceled for Monday.

Worcester Public Schools and many of the surrounding districts, colleges and universities have closed for Monday and cancelled evening classes and events.

The administration is encouraging drivers to stay off the roads in order to keep them clear for emergency vehicles and personnel and for their own safety.

High Winds, Massive Outages

According to GoLocalWorcester meteorologist John Ghiorse, Central Mass residents can expect to see wind gusts in the range of 40-70 mph for much of Monday afternoon and evening, as well as severe shoreline and beach battering.

The National Weather Service in Boston issued a High Wind Warning for interior areas of the state, where residents should expect 20-35 mph winds with gusts up to 60 mph and the strongest winds arriving in the afternoon and evening on Monday.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) set up an emergency operations center in Framingham on Sunday, and officials warned of the potential for long periods without electricity for residents across the Bay State.

“The severe winds associated with Hurricane Sandy have the potential to cause widespread power outages throughout the Commonwealth,” said MEMA Director Kurt Schwartz.

“As we have experienced in recent years with a variety of storms, these strong winds will have the capability to topple utility poles and trees, as well as snap tree limbs causing them to fall on power lines and disrupt electrical service.”

According to officials, all of the state's utility providers have made contact with every municipality's local emergency response officials in advance so that there will be direct lines of communication. Out-of-state utility repair crews have been contracted to help with repairs in the storm's aftermath, and they were already in place on the ground Sunday afternoon.

National Grid has also warned of extended power outages, as well as interruptions to natural gas service if there is extensive flooding in coastal areas.

Shelters and Precautions

With coastal flooding a serious threat, Schwartz said MEMA will be prepared to support requests for evacuation assistance and search and rescue assistance should the need arise. The agency is working closely with the Red Cross. The aid organization had opened regional shelters at Durfee High School in Fall River, Newbury Elementary School, Weymouth High School and Chilmark Community Center as of Sunday evening. Additional shelters at Sandwich High School, Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School and Nauset High School were to be opened as of 8:00a.m. Monday.

MEMA urged residents to prepare for possible power outages by checking flashlights and portable radios, setting refrigerators and freezers to their coldest settings to preserve perishable food as long as possible once they lose power, putting fresh batteries in smoke and carbon dioxide detectors and unplugging electronic equipment to protect it from power surges when electricity is eventually restored.

Worcester residents can sign up for the city's Emergeny Management Division's ALERTWorcester emergency notification system to receive messages via phone, email or text message. The city reported that regular trash and recycling collection will take place on Monday despite the storm.

Emergency Resources and Contact Info

For shelter info or non-emergency assistance during Hurricane Sandy call Mass 2-1-1 or visit http://mass211.org/

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA): 508-820-200

American Red Cross of Central Massachusetts: 978-537-3339

National Grid, Worcester: 508-860-6000 

If you experience an outage, call: 1-800-465-1212

Text STORM to NGRID (64743) to register for broadcast text alerts or you can sign up for e-mail alerts.

For more tips on safety with regards to power lines, generators, etc., check out National Grid's Storm Safety link.

Follow the latest in outages throughout the state with Naitonal Grid's Power Outage Map.


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