As of 11 a.m. Thursday, Hurricane Irene, a Category 3 storm, is expected to hit Long Island somewhere between Saturday night and Sunday morning, bringing strong winds, heavy rain and most likely, coastal flooding.
Although Long Island hasn’t been hit by a serious hurricane since 1938, “[it] is one of the most vulnerable places in the nation,” Ken English, deputy director of the Long Island chapter of the American Red Cross said at a recent hurricane preparedness seminar.
The Nassau County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has a plan in place should a hurricane strike.
Several areas of Nassau are located in a flood zone, more than likely residents will be instructed to take shelter inside their homes, while those located in coastal areas such as Long Beach will be instructed to evacuate.
“If a hurricane strikes, you might need to stay inside for several days,” English said, advising everyone to prepare a shelter-in-place kit that would include seven days worth of provisions for each member of your household including one gallon of water per person for each day.
You should also have a go-kit for each family member, including any pets, should you be told to evacuate. (Nassau Coliseum would be the site of a shelter designated only for animals.) To see what items should be included in these kits click here.
Among the suggested supplies is a battery-powered or hand crank radio, which English says should be used to listen for instructions from local authorities. Nassau County has their own emergency notification system, which would allow them to quickly call residents’ landline phones to share pertinent information in the event of a disaster. The county will use this to alert people on when to evacuate. The county currently has 25 shelters ready for occupancy.
“Shelters are crowded and uncomfortable places with minimal resources which should be considered as a place of last resort and not part of your plan,” English said. “Only evacuate if you are told to...[but] know your evacuation routes” he said.
Click here to view them.
He suggests finding a friend or relative living inland that will let you stay at their home. This should be a part of a disaster plan that every family creates for themselves before the storm is knocking on their door.
“I would do presentations all over the county with Jim [Callahan, former OEM commissioner] and he would say, ‘If we tell you to evacuate and you don't, write your emergency contact information and Social Security number on your arm so we can identify your body when we pull you out of the debris.’” English said. “That woke people up.”
After the storm, if you have stayed home, remain inside until emergency officials advise you otherwise.
"More injuries happen after the hurricane from downed trees and power lines," he said.
For more information visit nassaucountyny.gov/ready.