Friday, August 26, 2011

Rockland State of Emergency Begins at 6 PM Today

By Rockland Journal News

RAMAPO — First-responders and elected officials from many municipalities in Rockland gathered today to publicly urge residents to prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Irene before the storm arrives early Sunday.

Officials stressed the need for people to have plenty of non-perishable food and drinking water on hand, along with medications, flashlights and extra batteries, among other supplies.

They also said residents should not call 911 unless there was a true emergency, such as someone suffering a heart attack . Calls to report downed power lines and similar issues should instead be directed to local police departments. Officials are concerned that the 911 system could otherwise become overwhelmed and that those in immediate need of help won't get it.

Gordon Wren Jr., the county's director of fire and emergency services, said many communities will be affected by the storm, leaving fewer resources to tap from outside the area that might be able to lend a hand to Rockland, which happened when Hurricane Floyd hit in 1999.

He said people should be prepared for the potential loss of power, cell phone service and the use of portable home phones, which rely on electricity to work.

He urged residents to stock up on ice in coolers to help keep food fresh and to put gas in their cars in case they need to evacuate.

Meanwhile, County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef today signed the legal paperwork necessary to declare a state of emergency in Rockland. It will take effect as of 6 p.m. today and allows the county to require people to stay off the roads during the storm, among other powers.

"This is a serious storm," Vanderhoef said. "It's not anything we've had."

Officials also asked the public to secure outdoor objects such as lawn and patio furniture and garbage cans in advance of the storm, and said residents should essentially "batten down the hatches."

Vanderhoef, the supervisors of all five towns in Rockland and several village mayors held their news conference at the county Fire Training Center in Ramapo.

Orange and Rockland Utilities: Expect 'Widespread' Damage to Power System

By Rockland Journal News

PEARL RIVER — Orange and Rockland Utilities Inc. declared a full-scale Storm Alert this morning and further ramped up preparations to perform extensive emergency repairs to the widespread damage to the electric and gas systems expected from Hurricane Irene as it howls along the Atlantic seaboard this weekend.

Damage from the hurricane is expected to be profound.

In a statement issued by the company today, O&R Vice President of Operations James Tarpey said, "Based on the latest weather forecasts, O&R anticipates that it may have to virtually rebuild much of its electric system in Irene's wake, and that complete service restoration could be measured in weeks instead of days."

He added, "We expect this unprecedented storm to potentially impact more than half of our 300,000 electric customers. And, we anticipate extensive flooding that will result in our being forced to cut gas and electric service to affected homes and businesses for safety reasons."

Tropical Storm Floyd in 1999 resulted in power outages to 150,000 O&R customers - half the O&R system. Service restoration to all affected customers was completed within two weeks. Hurricane Irene is predicted to be much worse in terms of its severity, scope and impact on all the surrounding East Coast utilities.

O&R also expects substantial difficulties working safely because of flooding, downed trees and high winds. The flooding and downed trees also will present ongoing access problems to damage sites for crews. Then, because of expected extensive damage, reconstruction will far more labor-intensive than repair work.

Also, O&R cannot restore electric service to flood-damaged buildings until necessary repairs are made and then inspected and certified by an independent insurance underwriter.

Tarpey said, "We ask for the public's understanding and patience during the storm recovery process. As long as we are aware that you, or your area, are out of service, we will restore service as resources become available. In areas where damage may be extensive, significant resources and time may be required for us to rebuild your service."

If your electric service is interrupted, don't assume that O&R knows about the problem or that your neighbor has called in a report. Call O&R at 1-877-434-4100 to report the outage. Once you have reported the outage, if you have Internet access, you can save a telephone call by obtaining repair update information through O&R's website

Also, if flooding has damaged your home or business and compromised your electric or gas service, treat that situation as an outage and report it to O&R as well.

If you think you smell natural gas, call O&R's Gas Emergency Hotline at 1-800-533-5325

O&R offers some tips to help customers prepare for the effects of possible heavy weather:

• For safety's sake, don't touch or approach any downed wires. Call O&R immediately at 1-877-434-4100 and let line crews safely deal with the problem.

• Stock up on non-perishable food, bottled water, manual can opener, baby supplies and pet food.

• Have emergency equipment within reach --- portable radio, flashlights, spare batteries, first aid kit, cell phone and important medications.

• If a family member relies on electrically operated medical devices, secure a portable generator or make alternate arrangements for care. O&R does not provide customers with generators.

• Keep at least a half-tank of gas in your car. Consider having extra cash on-hand, in case ATM machines don't work.

Women's Pirkei Avos Shiur Canceled

The women's Pirkei Avos shiur this Shabbos afternoon has been canceled due to the impending hurricane.

The men's Shulchan Aruch shiur will take place at 6:30 PM followed by Mincha at 7:20 PM at Tzemach Tzedek.

Daily Maariv Minyan Time Change

The first daily Maariv minyan at Tzemach Tzedek will take place at 8:30 PM next week and will remain at that time until after Rosh Hoshana.

The second minyan remains at 9:30 PM.