BREAKING NEWS: Mandatory evacuation for communities within 3/4-mile of water

Residents of coastal and bayfront towns should be out by 9 a.m. Saturday

Date Published: 
Aug. 26, 2011

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell has declared a mandatory evacuation for much of the Coastal Point readership area. Everyone in towns including Fenwick Island, Bethany Beach, North Bethany, Dewey Beach, Rehoboth Beach, Lewes, Long Neck, Oak Orchard, and Broadkill, Primehook and Slaughter beaches is being required to evacuate prior to 9 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27.

Markell said that, due to the increasing certainty and severity of the storm’s projected path, he was mandating evacuation of coastal areas of all three of Delaware’s counties, as well as areas on major bodies of water. Hurricane Irene is expected to bring to the area fierce winds, catastrophic tidal flooding and torrential rains throughout much of the weekend.

Those living within ¾-mile of the Atlantic Ocean, Delaware Bay, Indian River Bay, Little Assawoman Bay, Rehoboth Bay and Pepper Creek were to start their evacuations at noon on Friday, Aug. 26, and be out of the evacuation zone by 9 a.m. on Saturday.

Also subject to the mandatory evacuation order are areas of Kent and New Castle counties, including Woodland Beach, Bower’s Beach, Delaware City, New Castle and low-lying areas south of the C&D Canal.

The governor’s order also applies to businesses in the evacuation zone. All of those businesses are being ordered to close on Saturday and into Sunday. Businesses in other areas are being encouraged to balance the need to serve customers against the safety of their employees. Once the storm’s fury has passed, provisions will be made to allow vital services, such as grocery stores and gas stations, to reopen to provide food, fuel and other supplies to the public, officials said.

Maps of the evacuation zone will be provided on County and State Web sites, at www.sussexcountyde.gov and dema.delaware.gov.

“Do not take this lightly. Today is the day to act,” Markell said in his Friday morning news conference.

Shelters open now, some welcome pets

Sussex County and state emergency planners have designated three shelters for those evacuating coastal communities and flood-prone areas in advance of Hurricane Irene. The shelters were set to open to the public at noon on Friday, Aug. 26.

As capacity will be limited, these shelters should be used as a means of last resort, officials said. Residents and visitors evacuating from at-risk areas are being encouraged to seek refuge with family or friends elsewhere, if possible.

The nearest local shelter is Indian River High School, 29772 Armory Road in Dagsboro, where pets will be accepted. Other shelters include Beacon Middle School, 19482 John J. Williams Highway, Lewes, (no pets-friendly designation); and Milford High School, 1019 N. Walnut St., Milford, where pets are also being accepted. If shelter capacity is reached, additional shelters may be announced.

Those visiting a shelter are being advised to take adequate clothing, medications, sleeping materials and food for themselves, their families and/or their pets (where accepted). Shelters will be staffed by the American Red Cross of the Delmarva Peninsula (www.redcrossdelmarva.org).

Public urged to prepare, responders go on duty

Regardless of whether they are visiting a shelter or relocating elsewhere, the public is being reminded to have supply kits on hand and know the evacuation routes.

“There is a point on Saturday when winds will require us to shot down the C&D Canal and concerns about flooding are likely to require the Indian River Inlet Bridget to be shut down,” Markell said, telling the public that they need to complete their travel before the State needs to shut down those bridges and possibly other roadways.

“Every state trooper is on call,” he added, noting that 1,500 members of the Delaware National Guard have been called to duty in helping to implement the evacuation plan. National Guard members were already being seen traveling area roads mid-morning, in both Humvees and high-clearance transport trucks that could potentially be used to evacuate those who become stranded by high waters.

But officials emphasized that conditions during the storm will likely become severe enough that first-responders may not be able to respond to calls for aid. Those living in any low-lying areas, flood prone areas and manufactured homes are being advised to evacuate now, so as not to risk their lives or those of the people who would be asked to rescue them.

Nonessential state employees were being sent home at noon on Friday, including school employees. The few area schools that were already open as of Friday were expected to dismiss school early.

The University of Delaware has postponed move-in day for students until further notice. Students who were already on campus are being advised to drop off their belongings and return home. The university will provide services to students who remain, but, again, students are encouraged to return home if possible. All UD activities are canceled. Classes will not being on Tuesday, Aug. 30, as originally scheduled.

All DNREC facilities, including state parks, are closed. The Cape May-Lewes Ferry is closed, as is Tanger Outlets.

Markell said the state’s roadways were not being subjected to restrictions at this time.

“The point is to travel away from potential areas of danger. … They should do so sooner, rather than later. There may come a point when driving becomes unsafe and restrictions are instituted.”

The governor said he would discourage those wishing to travel into the evacuation zone to secure second homes from doing so unless it is absolutely necessary.

“If it is necessary, they should do so today, not Saturday,” he said Friday.

“Today is the day to prepare for a few days of being in your home without being able to travel and without power,” Markell emphasized. “You need to be ready to evacuate quickly, with all you need should it come to that.”

“This will be unlike anything that has been seen in this state for more than 50 years,” he emphasized. “Do not take this lightly. Today is the day to act.”

State officials encouraged boat owners to make their preparations today, securing any loose objects before pulling their boats into a protected area, well-secured, or out of the water. Environmental officials said they are traveling around the state, making sure floodgates are open where needed.

Emergency management officials acknowledged that they had concerns that services might not be able to reach certain areas of the state for certain periods of time during the storm, making it all the more important that those in at-risk areas prepare their homes now and evacuate prior to 9 a.m. Saturday.

They also urged the public to call 911 only when lives are in immediate danger, so as not to overtax the system with calls about non-life-threatening situations.

“They need to stay aware, use the media, Web sites, to make sure they are aware of the situation around them. This is a time to watch out for your neighbors to see if they need any additional help, especially the elderly or those with special needs.”

State transportation officials noted that they would be suspending transit services on Sunday and possibly on Saturday, as well.

‘Most significant threat … in at least a generation’

Sussex County Council President Michael H. Vincent concurred with Markell’s assessment of the threat posed by the storm and urged the public to heed the warnings.

“This is the most significant threat Sussex County and Delaware has faced in at least a generation, maybe even longer,” Vincent said. “We cannot stress how important it is for people to follow the advice of our emergency planners and use this time now to get out of harm’s way.”

Emergency responders are using the Delaware Emergency Notification System and going door-to-door today to urge residents in at-risk areas to leave immediately. A state-of-emergency remains in effect, and tolls on Route 1 have been waived to keep traffic flowing on the evacuation route.

A hurricane warning is in effect for Sussex County. Forecasters as of mid-day Friday did not expect Sussex County to sustain a direct hit from the eye of the storm, with the center expected to pass just to the east, perhaps by about 40 miles. However, winds of at least 75 mph or more are expected across the county throughout the event, with gusts to100 mph possible. The storm is expected to be at its peak between midnight Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday.

The storm is forecast to create a surge of 3 to 6 feet of water along the oceanfront, Delaware Bay and Inland Bays, with lesser surge amounts along Chesapeake Bay tributaries, including the Nanticoke River. The storm is also expected to kick up waves of 12 to 15 feet in the surf zone and dump as much as 7 to 10 inches of rain.

The Sussex County EOC is encouraging residents and visitors to continue monitoring the tropics and conditions as they deteriorate. For updates, stay tuned to local media, the Sussex County EOC Web site at www.sussexcountyde.gov/services/storm, and the County’s Twitter feeds at www.twitter.com/sussex_pio and www.twitter.com/sussexctyde_eoc.

The Coastal Point is making regular updates on its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/coastalpoint and via Twitter at @coastalpoint (www.twitter.com/coastalpoint). These will offer the most current information we have at any point in time.

The public should also monitor the National Weather Service, at www.nws.noaa.gov/er/phi, for the latest forecast, and www.deldot.gov for the latest traffic updates.

For helpful tips on what to do in preparation for a hurricane, including the County evacuation map and other preparedness materials, visit www.sussexcountyde.gov/services/storm.

For more information, members of the public can call the Sussex County EOC’s storm line at (302) 856-7366.

Beebe prepares for Hurricane Irene

Beebe Medical Center has implemented emergency operations for the safety of patients and staff. Beebe leadership is monitoring the weather emergency and is in close communication with State, County and local government emergency services. Beebe also has implemented the Hospital Incident Command System (HICS), with a command center operating at the Lewes campus.

Beebe Medical Center has resources in place to allow the hospital to remain open to care for emergency patients and hospitalized patients. Back-up systems are in place, including utilities, medical supplies, food and water, linens, medication and computer systems.
The Emergency Department, Operating Rooms, and Labor and Delivery at the hospital on Savannah Road in Lewes are staffed and ready for traumas and other emergency situations.

The medical center has canceled elective procedures and outpatient services at the hospital and at all satellite locations from Saturday through Monday.

Note: The Millville Emergency Center will close at 7 a.m. Saturday and remain closed until 7 a.m. Tuesday (conditions permitting).

Beebe Medical Center outpatient facilities will be closed from Saturday through Monday. That includes all satellite facilities in Georgetown, Long Neck, Milton, Millsboro, Millville and Beebe Health Campus on Route 24 in Rehoboth Beach, including Tunnell Cancer Center, Beebe Outpatient Surgery Center, Beebe Imaging, Beebe Lab Express, Beebe Rehab Services, Gull House and the Wound Care and Diabetes Management in Long Neck.

Beebe Medical Center is not designated as an emergency shelter. American Red Cross Emergency Shelters are located at Beacon Middle, Indian River High and Milford High schools. For more information about the shelters, call the Sussex County Emergency Operation Center at (302) 855-7801.

UPDATED: Pet, horse owners offered shelter for animals, instructions

Hurricane Irene is going to necessitate voluntary, and in some cases, mandatory evacuation in parts of Delaware. Shelter provisions are in place for pets and horses. Please refer to the evacuation maps on the Delaware Emergency Management Web site at http://dema.delaware.gov/.
 
Pets:
Delaware Animal Response (DAR) strongly urges pet owners who are planning to evacuate to seek shelter with family and friends or in hotels that allow pets. If this is not possible, DAR, the Department of Health and Social Services, and the Red Cross have designated the following shelters as pet accessible shelters:
Indian River High School, 29772 Armory Rd., Dagsboro, DE 19939
Milford High School, 1019 Walnut Street, Milford, DE  19963
Lake Forest High School, 5407 Killens Pond Road, Felton, DE 19943
Middletown High School, 120 silver Lake Road, Middletown, DE 19709
 
When pets are brought to the above shelters, the owners should provide the following:
·         Medical records, vaccination history, and medications
·         Current photographs
·         Veterinarian phone number
·         Documentation of any behavior problems
·         Alternate contact information
·         First aid kit
·         Leashes, collars, or harnesses, and muzzle (if necessary) with identification tags
·         A labeled pet carrier for each animal
·         Food and water bowls, litter pan for cats
·         Food and water for at least 5 days, can opener
·         Toys, blanket
 
For more information on emergency preparedness for companion animals and pets, contact:  
Elainea Goldthwaite, DAR Coordinator, Delaware Department of Agriculture
Phone – (302) 698-4500 (Department of Agriculture)
        (800) 282-8685 (DE only)
        (302) 698-4622 (DAR Office)
      E-mail – elainea.goldthwaite@state.de.us
 
Horses:
Horse owners with low-lying pastures or barns or who expect flooding may consider moving horses off their property. If flooding of the animal area is not expected, or if there is high ground to which horses can be moved, owners are urged to please consider sheltering the horses in place (where they normally live). 
 
The Delaware State Fairgrounds is accepting horses for sheltering during the hurricane.
If horses are housed near coastal waters, and you are thinking about evacuating your home, you must call the fairgrounds BEFORE loading your horses.
There are a limited number of stalls; so again, owners must call ahead prior to taking their horse(s). 
The fairgrounds will be providing only stalls for the horses that are sheltered there.
If you call the fairgrounds and they have room for your horse, you must bring your own bedding and feed for your horses. There will not be any feed or bedding at the fairgrounds for you to use.
You will need to arrange your own care for your horses, as there will not be anyone at the fairgrounds to provide this service. You will need to take care of your own horses by giving them feed, bedding, and water every day. If you do not have anyone to care for your horses at the fairgrounds, DO NOT take them to the fairgrounds.
If you wish to stay at the fairgrounds with your horse during the emergency period, that will be allowed.
 
FAIRGROUNDS PHONE NUMBER    (302) 398-3269, ext. 203.