2012-10-25 / Front Page

State of Emergency in Place

Effects of Sandy hit county
Eric Gross

UPDATE, NOON MONDAY: Putnam County officials were advised late this morning that effective at 1 p.m., Route 84 will be closed to all non-essential traffic from the Southeast-Danbury line east.

Connecticut State Police reported several jackknifed tractor trailer rigs along the interstate east of Danbury which has prompted the closure. In Putnam County, officials have closed Zimmer Road in Southeast, Bear Mountain Bridge Road in Continental Village and Cornwall Hill Road in Patterson due to falling tree limbs.

The New York State DOT has indicated when winds reach 50 mph later today, the Bear Mountain Bridge, Newburgh-Beacon Bridge and Tappan Zee Bridge will all be closed. In Cold Spring along the Hudson, flooding has already begun, and Mayor Seth Gallagher has called for voluntary evacuations.

Earlier story, Monday morning: A state of emergency takes effect at 7 a.m. Monday across Putnam County due to the expected effects of the monster storm that continues to churn up the eastern seaboard.

County Executive MaryEllen Odell addressed a meeting Sunday afternoon of 100 fire and EMS officials along with town and village administrators to outline the county's plans in dealing with the expected furor created by the monster weather event.

After conferring with the National Hurricane Center, Thomas Lannon, Putnam's Emergency Management Director, said damage from the storm in the lower Hudson Valley will result from strong wind gusts rather than rainfall: " While communities on Long Island, New Jersey and even in New York City can expect up to 10 inches of rain, Putnam should receive anywhere from 2 to 6 inches of rain. However, the wind will cause chaos since sustained winds of 28 mph will begin on Monday morning with wind gusts to 44 mph. On Monday evening the wind will intensify to 41 mpg with gusts in excess of 65 mph. Tuesday morning's sustained winds will reach 32 mph with gusts to 50 mph and on Tuesday evening winds will subside to 24 mph with gusts to 36 mph. Even on Wednesday morning wind gusts of 25 mph are anticipated."

Odell has ordered senior citizen centers in both Mahopac and Putnam Valley to open at 9 a.m. Monday and remain open until 9 p.m. Monday evening. On Tuesday and Wednesday the centers will again be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day.

The county's Wheels on Meals program will be suspended but Odell said those receiving the frozen entrees received extra meals on Friday to get them through the next few days.

PART(Putnam Area Rapid Transit) service will be suspended at 2 p.m. Monday until further notice.

Odell expressed concern over tidal flooding in Cold Spring, with a 2-to-4-foot tidal wave expected. While no mandatory evacuations have been called for, Odell recommended evacuation of homes along Manitou Station Road and Hudson River Lane in Garrison because "both of these tertiary roads always flood during major storms."

On Sunday afternoon schools in Brewster, Carmel, Mahopac and North Salem announced their closures for both Monday and Tuesday. Brewster Superintendent Jane Sandbank said educators were being cautious: "It's always best to be safe than sorry especially when strong winds endanger our children and staff." Schools in Garrison and Haldane will be closed at least Monday, possibly Tuesday as well.

The Putnam County Emergency Operation Center will be fully manned starting at 7 a.m. Monday and will remain active until the storm passes and the need for emergency coordination subsides.

Odell called on residents of the county to remain vigilant during the storm: "Don't be heroic. Stay home with your family and loved ones. Unless an emergency exists there is no reason to be travelling on roads strewn with debris."

In the event of any emergency call 911.

Update as of 2 p.m. Sunday: Food stores were mobbed with shoppers Sunday morning as the region prepares for what weather forecasters are calling an "unprecedented storm" when three fronts will collide, causing what officials are fearing will be catastrophic conditions.

Due to the potential impact of the hurricane, the North Salem School District announced the closing of school on both Monday and Tuesday.

Metro North will be suspending railroad service this evening (Sunday) with the last train out of Grand Central Station on the Harlem Line to Southeast at 5:48 p.m. and the last train on the Hudson Line to Cold Spring departing at 5:50 p.m.

The final train leaving Southeast to Manhattan will depart at 5:13 p.m. while the last train from Cold Spring to Grand Central will leave at 5:02 p.m.

Fire department and EMS officials will be meeting this afternoon at 2:30 with the Commissioner of Emergency Services Adam Stiebeling. At three o'clock County Executive Mary Ellen Odell will be meeting with top county officials to finalize plans for the onslaught of Mother Nature's fury.

Earlier story, from Saturday afternoon:

Putnam County Emergency Management and first responders are preparing for extremely high winds and  very heavy flooding -- rivaling Irene -- as Sandy hits the region.

Here's the actual text of the notice sent to those involved in local emergency preparedness:

Headline:  Putnam County Urges Residents to Prepare for the Arrival of a Dangerous Coastal Storm. Winds and Heavy Rain Will Begin Sunday and Last Into Wednesday

We continue to monitor the progress of Hurricane Sandy as it heads towards our region. MaryEllen Odell, Putnam County Executive, along with County Emergency Response Officials participated in a National Weather Service briefing. Following is an overview of the current and predicted conditions.  
As the storm continues to move closer to our area it still has some unpredictable attributes. We advise all residents and visitors to Putnam County to prepare now. Charge your cell phone and have a car charger available. Have a battery powered radio and flashlights as well as extra batteries on hand. Make sure you have enough medications (prescriptions and over the counter) on hand for all family members for at least one week. Inspect your house and surrounding areas for loose items, secure anything that can move in high winds. Go to http://www.ready.gov for more storm preparation tips. 
The storm convergence models are now indicating more certainty in the storm making landfall anywhere from Virginia to Cape Cod. Most forecasters are focusing on the center of the storm coming ashore in Southern New Jersey. Currently we are looking at wind and rain beginning Sunday, October 28, 2012, late afternoon/early evening. Wind and rain will intensify overnight with Monday into Monday night being the worst. 
On the National Weather Service website (www.weather.gov) it shows a predicted 1 – 3 inches of rain for this event however the lead forecaster for this region says he believes it is more like 3 – 6 inches. This is still better than the forecast from yesterday when it was predicted to be 4 – 8 inches. Sunday October 28, 2012 during the day, winds will gradually intensify to 15 – 20 MPH with gusts of 30 MPH. After sunset Sunday the wind will increase to 39 – 53 MPH sustained. Monday (especially into the evening) winds will increase to 40 – 60 MPH sustained with gust of 70 – 80 MPH possible. 
On Friday the storm began to lose its organization and fall apart. On Saturday morning the storm actually began to reform and intensify, and there is once again a defined center. Forecast models still show that the storm will interact with other weather systems and turn into a dangerous coastal storm. This results in a very large storm as the center will once again lose its definition and also a slow moving storm meaning it will be with us for 3 or more days. 
Putnam’s Hudson River communities need to prepare for a higher than normal tidal surge. Due to atmospheric conditions and an increasing East Fetch (sustaining winds and atmospheric pressure that do not allow normal drainage of previous high tides) it is predicted that the tidal surge will equal Hurricane Irene’s in 2011. In addition the longer storm duration will result in up to 3 higher than normal tidal cycles. 
Temperatures will remain slightly above seasonal at the onset, but as the storm mixes with a cold front, temperatures will begin to descend into slightly lower than seasonal. By Wednesday we will see temperatures of 50 F during the day and 40 F overnight. There are no below freezing temperatures predicted. 
We should be prepared for flooding conditions as the remaining leaf cover is removed from trees. This can create blockage for normal drainage paths such as small streams.  

In preparation for this event, take time now to review your Personal Storm Emergency Plan and 
    Have an Emergency GO Kit (everything you need if you have to leave your house) 
    Establish a Family Communication Plan (how will you communicate with your family during and after the event?) 
    Know your surroundings; is your property flood prone? Take protective action now! 
    If you have a generator, be sure it has been installed by a qualified electrician. You MUST have a transfer switch installed to prevent dangerous electricity from injuring utility crews as they repair damaged lines 
    For more information on storm preparation go to http://www.ready.gov ("http://www.ready.gov")  
    To track the storm or for up to date weather information go to http://www.weather.gov ("http://www.weather.gov")  orhttp://www.nhc.noaa.gov ("http://www.nhc.noaa.gov")  (the National Weather Service’s Hurricane Center) 
    To report an outage or to review current outages for NYSEG go to http://www.nyseg.com/outages/default.html("http://www.nyseg.com/outages/default.html")  
    To report an outage or to review current outages for Central Hudson go to http://stormcentral.cenhud.com/default.aspx("http://stormcentral.cenhud.com/default.aspx")  
    Stay informed before, during and after the event by signing up for NY-Alert at http://www.nyalert.gov("http://www.nyalert.gov") . By being a NY-Alert subscriber you can receive weather advisories, road closure information and local updates from the County and your local municipality by phone, fax, email or text message, all at no charge! 
We will continue to monitor the situation and keep you advised. 

Earlier story from Saturday morning:

Putnam officials have been monitoring the path of Hurricane Sandy and realize wherever it comes ashore along the Northeast coast, the impact in Putnam could be as big or bigger than Irene last year.

County Executive MaryEllen Odell held a series of meetings Friday with local, regional and state emergency officials: "We have been advised that Sandy's wrath will be unprecedented, with massive power outages, flooding, downed trees and road closures."

The latest forecast for any locale in Putnam, as well as hurricane tips and history, can be found at noaa.gov.

County, town and village highway and DPW crews worked Friday in cleaning catch basins and culverts of leaves in order for water to drain properly. Local stores were mobbed with shoppers preparing for the worst. Supermarkets reported a run on batteries and flash lights while a clerk at Home Depot in Southeast said 60 generators were sold in less than two hours.

The Putnam Bureau of Emergency Services has scheduled a meeting for 2:30 p.m. Sunday when Commissioner Adam Stiebeling will brief his deputy emergency coordinators prior to a 3 p.m. meeting with the county executive who will receive updates from the state and National Weather Service on the storm's path.

Numerous community activities and events will probably be cancelled as a result of the hurricane.

The first cancellation involves the Design Day and Community Celebration at Kent Elementary School planned for Tuesday evening. The event has been rescheduled for Nov. 19.

The Courier and PCNR.com websites will provide regular updates on measures being taken countywide before and during the storm. If you have photos you'd like to share, please send to doug@pcnr.com; include your name and caption information.




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‘No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.’ ~Hal Borland