Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone declared a State of Emergency for Suffolk County as of 8 a.m. Saturday as Hurricane Sandy continued to cut a deadly swath of destruction, with the fierce storm headed north.
Bellone also ordered the mandatory evacuation of Fire Island, with residents to vacate by 2 p.m. on Sunday.
The evacuation order was made in consultation with Islip Supervisor Tom Croci and Brookhaven Acting Supervisor Kathleen Walsh.
The Suffolk County Emergency Operations Center opened at 9:00 a.m. on Friday and will be open throughout the weekend.
The EOC coordinates the county’s response system and consists of over 40 workstations for representatives from the county, towns, villages, utilities and emergency responders.
Also in preparation for storm, which is expected to bring heavy rains, high winds, coastal flooding, downed trees and power outages to Suffolk County, the Suffolk Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services began preparations for the storm.
Included in the preparations are notification by e-mail and phone to the county’s community emergency response team volunteers that they may be called into action; notification to approximately 100 county employee shelter volunteers that they may be called into action if shelters need to be opened; coordination with towns and the American Red Cross to identify a shelter in each of the 10 towns, if needed; telephone contact with special-needs persons listed as part of the Joint Emergency Evacuation Program; identification of a pet-friendly shelter and persons-with-special-needs shelter, if needed; and briefings for towns, villages and first responders throughout the weekend.
Residents who live in low-lying and flood prone areas are urged to monitor weather reports closely and listen for updates.
However, Bellone said, residents should not report to shelters until instructed to do so; 911 calls should be only for life-threatening emergencies, not for information.
Residents with non-emergency situations can use the SCPD non-emergency number, 631-852-COPS (631-852-2677) or the Suffolk County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services line at 631-852-4900.
In order to prepare for the storm, residents should be sure their family’s emergency supply kit is ready and enough food, water, medication, and other necessities are stocked up to sustain families and pets for at least 72 hours.
As power outages and flooding could occur, a cooler should be kept to ensure food safety.
In addition, a communication plan should be set up with family members and friends, with texting a viable means of communication if power lines are downed.
Also, Bellone said, avoid walking or driving through flooded areas.