Gov. Andrew Cuomo stopped in the North Country yesterday to assess the preparedness of vital storm resources like emergency personnel and first-response communication lines. At a press conference Sunday, President Obama declared the entirety of New York a federal disaster area, making aid funding available to the local and state governments at no charge.
As Cuomo spoke to the public, National Guardsmen, local police and firefighters stacked sandbags on the banks of the Ausable, which flooded during last year's Hurricane Irene to its highest point in recorded history. This year's storm is predicted to bring less rainfall, around 1-3 inches, but officials are making it clear that everyone should be vigilant in preparing for the storm and maintaining their safety during the event.
"It almost always turns out to be a little different than you thought," said Cuomo in reference to the impact that the storm will have.
Media outlets have been alluding to The Perfect Storm (documented in Sebastien Junger's book of the same name; Hurricane Grace) as an apt comparison for Hurricane Sandy. Like the 1991 storm, Hurricane Sandy is merging with a winter, Nor'easter-like storm over the Mid-Atlantic. This will likely decrease the rapidity of the event's motion over our area: in other words the storm's effects will be felt for several days in the form of high winds (gusts between 70-90 mph) and heavy rains.
Local officials are advising that area residents stock the food and water they would need for three days of "off-the-grid" survival. In the event of power outages, residents should prepare flashlights with plenty of batteries and, of course, have a radio handy for updates on local conditions.
Area residents should continue to call 911 in the event of emergencies.
A special line, 211, has been established to deliver critical information, such as shelter openings and road closures. It will be updated frequently.
School closeres for local districts have already begun to take effect. North Country Community College is closed as of 12:30 p.m. today; Paul Smiths College will close at 12:15 p.m. today; St. Regis, Brushton-Moira, and Saranac Lake school districts have also announced cancellations.
Hurricane Sandy is predicted to make landfall in New York City at 5 p.m. tonight. The National Weather Service has released a severe weather warning for Northern New York between 5 p.m. tonight and 11 a.m. tomorrow.
If the storm is inordinately severe, Mountain Lake PBS (WCFE) will broadcast emergency information throughout the week.
An emergency shelter opens at the Jay Community Center in Ausable Forks at noon today. The North Country Chapter of the American Red Cross says it may open several additional shelters in the North Country if needed.
You can locate shelter locations at www.redcross.org or in the Plattsburgh area you can call 518-561-7280.
We will continue to update you with necessary information regarding Hurricane Sandy.