Preparation is intensifying across Rockland County today for what the latest forecasts say could be a major storm event at least as destructive as Hurricane Irene.
O&R declared a company-wide Storm Watch Thursday to get ready for Hurricane Sandy. The National Weather Service (NWS) is predicting the almost-certain arrival of tropical-storm conditions with gale-force winds, very heavy rain and significant flooding across the region late in the day Sunday. And, the forceasts call for that violent weather to stall over the area for 24 hours or more.
Rockland County and municipal officials will hold a planning meeting early this afternoon and conference with the NWS. Clarkstown emergency planning representatives are meeting this morning.
O&R is locking in workforce deployment and scheduling plans, filling warehouses and staging areas with wire, poles and transformers and contracting for extra help as many as 400 more crews from utilities and contractors outside the storm impact zone.
As part of its Storm Function effort, O&R is telling field crews to expect widespread storm damage with repairs being performed under difficult conditions for an extended period of days. Its first-response teams are ramping up so they are ready to go at the first sign of severe, storm-related damage.
O&R also will halt any construction projects and secure work sites against heavy wind and water damage.
To help its customers prepare for a storm, O&R offered these tips:
- For safety’s sake, don’t touch or approach any downed wire. Assume it is energized and dangerous. Call O&R immediately toll-free 1-877-434-4100. Depending on the situation, you may also want to call your local police to divert traffic until an O&R crew arrives.
- Maintain a distance of at least 50 feet from downed wires and anything they are in contact with including puddles of water and fences. Supervise your children so that they are not in the vicinity and keep pets on a leash.
- If a fallen wire is draped over a car, do not approach the car and make rescue attempts. Remain a safe distance away, and try to keep the occupant of the vehicle calm. If possible, emergency personnel should handle the situation.
- Stock up on non-perishable food, bottled water, manual can opener, baby supplies and pet food. Set your refrigerator and freezer controls to their coldest settings. Fill the bathtub with water.
- Have emergency equipment within reach --- portable radio, flashlights, candles and matches, spare batteries, first aid kit, cell phone and important medications. Update your personal list of emergency phone numbers. Keep O&R’s toll-free number 1-877-434-4100 near the phone to report power outages.
- If you experience a power outage, don’t assume that O&R automatically knows about it or that someone else will report it. To be sure the outage is reported, please call O&R toll-free at 1-877-434-4100 to let O&R know what happened. The more information you can provide, the more O&R can help you.
- Remember, if the base station of your cordless phone plugs into the wall, your phone will be unusable during a power outage.
- If a family member relies on electrically operated medical devices, secure a portable generator or make alternate arrangements for care. O&R does not provide customers with generators.
- Keep at least a half-tank of gas in your car. Consider having extra cash on-hand, in case ATM machines don’t work.
- Listen for storm alerts on the radio. In case of power outages, O&R will keep the stations updated on repair progress.
- Learn how to manually open and close any electrically powered garage door, security door or gate.
For more information, visit O&R’s Storm Center at www.oru.com.