Emergency Operations Center: Sussex County 'dodged' storm-Updated 12:45 p.m.. Sat. Sept. 4, 2010

Tropical Storm Earl made landfall near Western Head Nova Scotia around 10 a.m. according to officials. Severe tropical storm conditions are affecting a large part of the province. Meanwhile, coastal Delaware is pleasant with sunny skies.

Rough surf and strong rip currents are expected to persist through the Labor Day weekend, but the weather should be pleasant for the remainder of weekend.

“We are fortunate Sussex County managed to dodge the storm this time,” Sussex County EOC Director Joseph L. Thomas said. “But, make no mistake, Hurricane Earl was a major threat that could have severely affected us.”

Officials reminds those visiting area beaches this weekend to enjoy these last days of summer, but exercise caution if heading into the
surf for a swim. Large swells and potentially dangerous rip currents remain a possibility in the wake of the storm.

Emergency officials still urge people to prepare amidst peak of hurricane season

Sussex County emergency officials reminded the public that, with the peak of the 2010 hurricane season just days away, preparation is the key to minimizing damage and preventing loss of life.

Tropical Storm Fiona, they noted, could follow along in Hurricane Earl’s wake and keep seas choppy and the surf dangerous through Monday.

The town of Bethany Beach had rescheduled the “Tribute to Elvis” show originally scheduled for Friday, September 3 for Sunday, September 5. Show time is 8:00 p.m.

“The Sussex County EOC encourages residents and visitors to continue monitoring both storms and their movements toward the coast,” officials said. The Sussex County EOC Web site is located at www.sussexcountyde.gov/services/storm, and the County’s

Twitter feed is at www.twitter.com/sussex_pio. The public can also monitor the National Weather Service’s latest forecasts and watches or warnings, at www.nws.noaa.gov/er/phi.

For more information on Hurricane Safety, including including making a kit, having a plan, and being prepared, visit http://www.redcross.org/www-files/Documents/pdf/Preparedness/checklists/....

Officials urge caution

Sussex County mid-week was encouraging those planning to visit the area for the holiday weekend to carefully monitor conditions and exercise caution if going out onto local beaches. Swimming may not be advisable in the days ahead, they warned.

For those who do venture into the water, they advised, always swim where lifeguards are present and obey any advisories or closures.

Bethany Beach officials warned that rough and dangerous surf conditions would likely linger for a few days after the storm passed. They strongly advised people not to swim at any beach that is not lifeguard-protected.

Utilities urging general preparedness

Delaware Electric Cooperative is reminding everyone that preparing for a power outage during a storms is extremely important.

In the event of a severe storm impacting our area, customers are encouraged to follow these storm preparation recommendations to help ensure their family's safety and comfort.

- Never touch or go near fallen wires, even if they are thought to be safe. Parents can use this opportunity to remind children that wires are dangerous. If you are in a vehicle that comes in contact with a downed wire, stay in the vehicle until help arrives.

- Make sure you have a working battery powered radio or TV and a good supply of fresh replacement batteries. Also, have flashlights available for all family members.

- If an electric pump supplies your water, fill spare food-grade containers with water for cooking and washing in anticipation of a possible power interruption.

- Make sure motor driven devices such as garage door openers, can be operated manually.

- Have a first aid kit available at home and check its contents to make sure it is complete and up to date. If family members with special medical needs, such as insulin or other prescription drugs, check to make sure you have an adequate supply.

- Keep the refrigerator door closed. Food will keep several hours in a closed refrigerator and up to two days in a freezer. If you must open the door, be quick!

- If you have an elderly neighbor, be a Good Samaritan and check on their status. Even a quick telephone call during a storm can provide much appreciated assurance that help is nearby if needed.

"You can never be too prepared for an outage during a significant storm," said Rob Book, spokesman for the Delaware Electric Cooperative. "However, if you have the basic essentials prepared in an outage kit, stored in an easy to locate place, this can make all the difference should they be needed," Book continued.

Outage Kits should consist of the following items:

-First Aid Kit
-Paper plates, cups and plastic utensils
-Battery operated radio or TV
-Extra blankets or sleeping bags
-Stored water
-Portable fire extinguisher
-Candles and matches
-Canned goods or easily prepared foods
-Can opener
-Necessary prescription drugs

REMINDER-Delaware Electric Cooperative consumers living in Sussex County who experience an outage should call the emergency service line at (302) 349-9009. Delaware Electric Cooperative consumers living in Kent County who experience an outage should call (302) 398-9009.

Pet, livestock owners encouraged to keep animals in mind

On Wednesday, the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) was urging everyone to take stock of their emergency plans to make sure that they were prepared to ensure the safety of themselves, their families and the animals entrusted to their care.

Elainea Goldthwaite, Delaware Animal Response (DAR) coordinator said, “With possible evacuations or long-term power outages, extra steps need to be taken to ensure our pets and other animals are taken care of. While a disaster kit for the family may already be set aside, people need to have one for their pets and other animals, as well.”

In the past, if an evacuation was recommended, Goldthwaite noted, people had to go to a “traditional” human shelter and could not bring their pets. She noted that many people chose to remain at home with their pets rather than abandon them, and human and animal lives were lost as a consequence.

In Delaware, one no longer has to make that decision. If an evacuation is ordered, people are urged to not leave pets to fend for themselves. Delaware already has plans in place for provisions for pets if a human shelter is opened. Depending on the conditions, pets may be sheltered at the same location or in close proximity to the human shelter, using a “community” shelter approach, co-locating human and pet shelters. Owners will be encouraged to visit regularly and even assist in the day-to-day care of their pets.

In preparing for an emergency, DAR officials advised pet owners to:

• Be sure your pet is up to date on all vaccinations as recommended by your veterinarian.

• Prepare an animal disaster kit that contains the following stored in a waterproof container:

o Medical records, vaccination history, and medications;

o Current photographs;

o Veterinarian phone number;

o Documentation of any behavior problems;

o Alternate contact information;

o First aid kit;

o Leashes, collars, or harnesses (extra sturdy), and muzzle (if necessary) with identification tags;

o A pet carrier for each animal;

o Food and water bowls, litter pan for cats;

o Food and water for at least 7 days, can opener;

o Toys, blanket.

• Make sure you have a plan on where to take your pets should you be asked to evacuate.

DAR offered additional recommendations for owners of livestock and poultry, warning that sheltering livestock outside in case of structure collapse, or evacuating them, might be necessary. Poultry growers were warned to prepare for possible power outages and a need to keep poultry on-site longer than normal.

For the latest information on the impacts of Hurricane Earl on the area, visit the Web site at www.coastalpoint.com.