NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – At noon on Sunday light gusts of wind blew carpets of leaves into the air, a cold drizzle stung the skin, and a steady stream of customers were seen at gas stations and grocery stores.
As Hurricane Sandy inches closer to New England, officials and residents are increasingly concerned that the “hybrid” storm – a combination hurricane and nor’easter – will be one for the record books.
The National Weather Service says Central Massachusetts can expect 2 to 5 inches of rain and sustained winds of 20 to 40 mph with gusts of 50 to 60 mph. for a period of 12 to 18 hours. Widespread power outages are predicted and if power does go out, road crews won't be able to begin work until the wind dies down, officials note.
Gov. Patrick Deval has declared a state of emergency
in Massachusetts and is asking indivduals businesses and individuals to prepare, though at this point there are no travel bans or other statewide mandates.
He has asked that all schools be closed and Schools Superintendent Nancy Spitulnik said that Northbridge schools will be closed.
Fire Chief Gary Nestor, who also serves at Northbridge emergency management director, said on Sunday that an emergency shelter at the high school on Linwood Avenue will be opened if it becomes necessary.
Safety is a major concern in power outages and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) suggests several things, including:
• Check flashlights and portable radios to ensure they work and have extra batteries on hand. A 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).
Ohher tips are available on the MEMA website.
MEMA also lists things people should do to “shelter in place.” Shelter-in-Place is often used during dangerous conditions, such as hurricanes, when it is preferable to be indoors, not outside or on the road.
“If people do need sheltering, there is a list of things they will need to bring,” Nestor said, such as personal items, medications and snacks. An announcement will be made on the town’s website if the shelter opens.
Pets will also be sheltered, but except for service dogs, pets are not allowed in the shelter where people are staying. Owners should bring food and medication for their animals as well.
The Daily Voice, available on computer, tablet and smartphone, will be updating with the latest local information throughout the storm. Have cancellations or storm damage photos? Email email@example.com.