More than 60 Rockland County and municipal officials gathered Friday afternoon in Pomona to hear the latest storm tracking and prediction information from the National Weather Service (NWS). Representatives of the highway, law enforcement, health and other departments and fire services and ambulance corps attended the update and learned the potential had increased for Hurricane Sandy to bring heavy rains and strong winds to the area beginning Sunday night and continuing through Tuesday. Late Friday afternoon, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of state of emergency in advance of Hurricane Sandy.
“We have now excluded solutions that take it out to sea,” NWS Meteorologist Gary Conte said during the webinar. “We’ve got some confidence that the system is going to turn to the west between Virginia and Cape Cod.”
Conte said Hurricane Sandy is expected to make landfall between Virginia and Long Island quite possibly near the southern New Jersey/Delaware border. Conte told the officials to prepare for periods of heavy rain combined with tidal flooding for two days or more because of Sunday’s full moon. Rockland’s Emergency Services Coordinator Gordon Wren said tidal flooding would likely affect Piermont and Grassy Point, two areas that suffered severe flooding during a 1992 Nor’easter.
Conte noted falling leaves and small branches would compound urban flooding especially when combined with high tides and bands of heavy rain. He predicted rainfall in a range of two to five inches from the slow moving storm. Conte said to expect power outages.
Chris Jensen, Fire & Emergency Services program coordinator, said if needed Rockland Community College will be used as a shelter. Wren said the towns and villages should consider setting up shelters as well because people do not want to go far from their homes. Information about shelters will be released through NY Alert, a statewide alert system. Residents can also register to receive emergency information by calling 888-697-6972.
People with special needs can register online at www.rocklandregisters.com or call 845-364-2020. A representative of the school districts said a decision to close schools would depend on whether there were power losses and on the condition of roads used by the school buses.
Jensen reminded those attending to take photos of any damage caused by the storm and to document it. He said having that information available assisted the county and municipalities in getting financial assistance from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to make repairs and rebuild infrastructure after 2011’s Hurricane Irene and October snowstorm.
The group will get another update on the storm’s path and intensity on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and possibly Sunday as well. The county’s emergency operations center is expected to open Monday but will open earlier if necessary.