WEATHER ALERT: Emergency officials urge alert posture as potential hurricane strike looms


State and local emergency officials are urging residents of coastal Delaware to be alert and prepare as Hurricane Sandy tracks up the Atlantic in the coming days and poses a risk of potential severe weather, up to and including possibly making landfall in the immediate area.

As of Thursday evening, Hurricane Sandy was forecast to transition into a large coastal storm as it moved northward and could affect the area in the timeframe of Sunday through Tuesday. Heavy rainfall, high winds, coastal flooding and beach erosion are possible with this storm.

However, National Weather Service officials noted that the impacts of the storm will ultimately depend on the eventual track and evolution of Sandy as it interacts with a deepening upper level low pressure system approaching the East Coast. There remained quite a bit of uncertainty with the track, they said Thursday evening, and therefore with any actual impacts to the area.

The general path predicted for the storm takes it up the East Coast to make eventual landfall somewhere between Norfolk, Va., and northern New York State, likely as a Category 1 hurricane. However, one of the individual models for the storm’s path has it making landfall in the area of coastal Delaware and Ocean City, Md., maximizing its impact on the area should it do so. Should it do so, it would be the first time in recorded history that a hurricane has made its initial landfall in Delaware.

A larger number of models, however, indicate that the storm could make landfall along the New Jersey coast, and possibly farther north, reducing the expected impacts in coastal Delaware should that be the case.

Emergency officials have already warned residents of the area that they can expect heavy rain and wind from the storm, the severity of which will be determined by its exact path. Rainfall amounts of 8 to 10 inches have been predicted, while winds of up to 70 mph have been predicted should the storm make landfall in or near the area.

Additionally, the heavy rain, combined with storm surge and a lunar high tide on Monday are expected to cause significant flooding, which could be severe should the storm make a direct hit on the area. Tide predictions for the Lewes area have levels at potentially 3 feet above mean high tide level, which would make for major flooding in many of the low-lying coastal towns and their bayside counterparts.

The high winds and other effects of the storm are also anticipated to potentially cause power outages, which could potentially be long-lasting.

Accordingly, emergency officials are urging local residents to be alert for updates on the storm and its impacts and to begin preparation for the storm now. Ocean View police issued a severe weather threat alert for the Ocean View area running from Oct. 28 through Oct. 31.

In light of weather reports and wind expected, the Town of Frankford has cancelled its Fall Festival scheduled from noon to 4 p.m. on Sat. Oct. 27. Trick-or-treating, scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. on the 26th, will be at people's discretion, depending on the weather at the time, explained town officials.

Residents are being encouraged to monitor local news and weather stations, and follow recommendations of emergency management personnel.

Preparations should be made to evacuate if local officials instruct people to do so, they said. They should also prepare for potential long-term power outages and flooding. Additional information on this storm system can be found online at weather.gov/phi.

DEMA urges advance preparation

Delaware Emergency Management Agency officials on Thursday were continuing to monitor the latest weather forecasts and hurricane tracks, as Hurricane Sandy makes its way northward toward the Delaware area. With most forecasts calling for the storm to arrive near Delaware over the weekend, now is the time to exercise awareness and storm preparation, they said.

DEMA officials reminded the public that advanced preparation is important and offered the following tips:

• Make sure flashlights (one per person), extra batteries and bulbs and battery-operated lanterns are available. During periods of extended power outages, solar-powered landscape lights can be brought indoors at night to provide light, then placed back outside in daylight to re-charge.

• If the home has cordless phones, remember that they will not work if the electricity is off, so you should have a standby telephone — either a cell phone or a telephone with a cord that can be plugged in. A cell phone car charger can be used if power to the home is out for an extended period of time.

• Also, a portable radio and extra batteries are extremely important. A battery operated NOAA weather radio is also recommended.

• Include a first aid kit in your emergency supplies. The kit should at least contain bandages, aspirin or other pain relievers, gauze pads, first aid ointment, elastic bandage and tweezers.

• Have plenty of infant supplies on hand, including food, canned milk or formula, disposable diapers and other necessities.

• Stock up on food that does not require refrigeration or cooking, such as canned meats, vegetables, fruits, juices, dry cereals and powdered milk. Store enough supplies to last for at least three days. This means you should also have a manual can opener. • Have food and water for pets and records of shots and medication.

• Make sure to have a supply of water, for both drinking and for sanitation purposes. Store water in plastic jugs or covered containers. Have one gallon per day per person of drinking water for those in your household. A pre-filled bathtub can provide water to refill toilet tanks.

• Check your prescription medications. If supplies are low, get refills before the storm arrives.

If you live in an area prone to flooding and you may be ordered to evacuate, plan your escape route early. Check the number of hours it could take you to evacuate to a safe area during peak evacuation traffic. Have emergency contact phone numbers for family and friends; exchange these numbers with those on your contact list. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) can be used to let many people know you have reached your destination safety. If you live near the seashore, plan to evacuate early.

If evacuating to a shelter, gather supplies that should be taken along. Take sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, personal toiletry items and medications. If going to a shelter with children, remember to take along games, books and other items to occupy them. Baby supplies — diapers, wipes, baby food and other supplies should also be taken to a shelter. Consider in advance what will be done with pets in the event of an evacuation.

A complete inventory of personal property will help in obtaining insurance settlements and/or tax deductions for losses. Inventory checklists can be obtained from your insurance representative. Don’t trust your memory. List descriptions and take pictures. Store these and other important insurance papers in waterproof containers, electronically on a flash drive, or in a safety deposit box. If you evacuate, take insurance and property information with you. Proof of residency may be needed in order to reenter evacuated areas.

For more severe weather information, log on to www.dema.delaware.gov.

DelDOT makes advance preparations for Hurricane Sandy

As Hurricane Sandy moves along the East Coast of the United States, senior officials from the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) were monitoring the reports from the National Weather Service and the Delaware Emergency Management Agency. They have instructed DelDOT crews to begin preparations in case the storm impacts the state.

Across Delaware, crews are making sure equipment is available and ready for service, and most importantly, making sure that personnel are ready for the possibility of working for an extended period.

DelDOT urged people who live in areas prone to flooding to take precautions, too. Thought should be given to possible evacuation, they said, and assembling necessary supplies. Staying off the roads during the storm will help DelDOT crews do their jobs, they noted.

“At DelDOT, we always plan for the worst, and hope for the best,” said DelDOT Secretary Shailen Bhatt. “Today, we’re asking residents to please start making plans, as well.”