Town To Open Riverhead High School As Emergency Shelter

The town has issued a call for volunteers at the shelter, as well as an interpreter.

An emergency shelter will be opening at Riverhead High School at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Town officials held a meeting on Sunday at 11 a.m. Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter said the "unfortunate news" is that the Red Cross is considering Riverhead High School as a secondary shelter. "That's problematic," Walter said, adding that he did not want to wait that long to open up the high school as a shelter. "But, as always the case with Riverhead, we will do it."

"We're making the decision to open up Riverhead High School," Walter said.

The shelter will not be limited to Riverhead residents, Walter added.

Walter said volunteers are needed to help at the shelter. The word has already gone out to the town Democratic and Republican Committees, as well at Rotarians and members of the Lions Club. "We need to gather forces to help," Walter said.

Volunteers are needed on Sunday to set up cots, make sandwiches, and help with other tasks. Anyone interested in volunteering should call 631-727-4500 ext. 0.

A mandatory evacuation of low-lying areas of Riverhead, including Creek Road, areas of Baiting Hollow, and flood-prone areas in Aquebogue, Jamesport and South Jamesport will be ordered to evacuate. Evacuation is ordered to take place on Sunday.

Riverhead Town will not order mandatory evacuation of unstrapped mobile homes since the storm is expected to be more of a water, not wind, event; however, Walter urged residents in unstrapped mobile homes to seek shelter in framed homes or strapped trailers.

The Riverhead School District will close the high school tomorrow; the remainder of the district will "almost definitely" be closed tomorrow, Superintendent Nancy Carney said Sunday. She said a final determination for the rest of the district will be made later Sunday.

Residents are encouraged not to put out garbage, Walter said, due to high winds.

Walter said his belief is that the Red Cross will step in as a shelter, "now that we pushed the button."

Residents who need transportation to the town shelter should call 631-727-4500 ext. 0 up until 7 p.m. on Sunday.

A determinatiion has yet been made about whether or not Town Hall will be open on Monday.

Shelters will also be open in Hampton Bays, Brentwood and Sachem, with pet-friendly shelters at the eastern campus of Suffolk County Community College and in Brentwood.

Riverhead Town Police Chief David Hegermiller said winds are expected to increase tonight, with high tide to come at midnight. Storm surges six to 11 feet islandwide are expected, with 25 foot waves expected at area such as Dune Road on the South Fork.

Residents who are heading to the town shelter should bring their own food for Sunday night.

Buses will be available for anyone at the town's senior center who needs a ride to the town shelter. 

"This is a huge storm," Hegermiller siad. "It's 800 miles wide. We're very concerned about water. There's a lot of water out there."

Peconic Bay Medical Center CEO and President Andrew Mitchell said all was ready to go at the facility; the EOC center at the hospital will open at 4 or 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Highway Superintendent Gio Woodson also said his department was ready, with payloaders, chainsaws, pump and other equipment ready to go and clear area roads.

Town official emphasized that the only shelter is Riverhead High School; no fire department, or senior center, is a shelter. 

Residents who need to evacuate will get a phone call from the county, Hegermiller said. "But residents should use common sense. If you're in a low-lying area and your phone didn't ring, get out."

Walter concluded the meetings by saying, "Stay safe. Godspeed. We'll get through this."




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