Officials are warning residents to begin planning for the worst by stocking up on supplies, studying evacuation routes and monitoring forecasts. Transit agencies and utilities began to implement their emergency preparations, including calling in extra contractors, clearing train tracks of debris and canceling planned construction projects.
Mayor Bloomberg noted there was still uncertainty about the timing and track of the storm, and said officials were not yet ordering evacuations because it was too early to make those calls. But still, he said, “common sense says you should start taking precautions.”
Significant beach erosion is expected along the shore lines with wind gusts of 60 to 70 mph, 6 to 10 inches of rain, waves of up to 20 feet and widespread power outages that, with some trees still leafy and the potential for snow, could last to Election Day.
Under the heaviest rain band, which looks like it will settle across New Jersey, rain totals could exceed 10 inches, saturating the ground. As strong winds move across those soaked soils, that could cause trees to come down, causing large-scale power outages.
Utilities in the Northeast have begun preparing for the storm; PSE&G in New Jersey is readying its workers to respond, and is arranging for extra contractors, like tree crews, to assist with cleanup.
Officials are warning that New Yorkers in low-lying areas might have to evacuate. The city’s emergency management situation room has been activated.
In August 2011, Bloomberg ordered evacuations in low-lying areas of the city as Hurricane Irene approached. The entire subway system was also shut down.
The MTA says its plan calls for service to be shut down if sustained winds of 39 mph or higher are expected. No decision had been made Friday about service suspensions, officials said. Ahead of the storm, extra workers were being called in, trains were being removed from outdoor yards and subway ventilation grates vulnerable to flooding were being sandbagged and covered.
The agency says some vehicles may be barred from its bridges when winds reach 50 mph or more, and the bridges could be closed if winds reach 60 mph.
Bloomberg said officials would decide Sunday if school would be in session on Monday.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has activated the state’s emergency crews. He also urged people to prepare storm kits, which include non-perishable food, water, cash, filled prescriptions, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, first aid kit, flashlights and batteries.