Northeast Times

Philadelphia prepares for Hurricane Sandy

May­or Nut­ter held a news con­fer­ence out­side City Hall on Fri­day to warn people who live in flood-prone areas to move by 2 p.m. Sunday, in ad­vance of Hur­ricane Sandy. He also talked about the city's pre­par­a­tions for what is ex­pec­ted to be a ma­jor storm. Can­cel­la­tions be­cause of the storm warn­ings have already be­gun.

The street lights near Solly Ave. and Roosevelt Park are mal­func­tion­ing and blink­ing red con­tin­ously. More power out­ages and street lights are ex­pec­ted to oc­cure as the storm con­tin­ues. (Maria Pouch­nikova)

Phil­adelphia May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter warned city res­id­ents who live in areas that are his­tor­ic­ally prone to flood­ing to leave those places by 2 p.m. Sunday, ahead of Hur­ricane Sandy that is head­ing up the East Coast.

Dur­ing a news con­fer­ence out­side City hall on Fri­day af­ter­noon, he said that though no one was sure how hard the storm was go­ing to hit the city, res­id­ents should be pre­pared for a storm that could be as bad as the Au­gust 2011 Hur­ricane Irene – or worse.

Along the Delaware River and near the Pennypack Creek are two areas prone to flood­ing that Nut­ter men­tioned. Hur­ricane Sandy is ex­pec­ted to be win­di­er than Irene and last longer, said Sam­antha Phil­lips, the city’s emer­gency man­age­ment dir­ect­or. Irene dumped al­most 6 inches of rain in one week­end in 2011.

“It’s a slow-mov­ing storm,” the may­or said. “This is go­ing to go on for a while.”

The may­or said Phil­adelphia has rivers, streams and creaks that could flood, and there are many scen­ari­os that could un­fold as the storm tracks north.

“Our hope is that Sandy will stay far out to sea,” he said, “but we can not de­pend on that.”

People should know they might be in­side for days, he said, and be pre­pared for power out­ages. Have plenty of food and wa­ter, flash­lights and bat­ter­ies, the may­or ad­vised.

“We en­cour­age you to take this very ser­i­ously,” Phil­lips said.

The rain is ex­pec­ted to start Sunday even­ing, but the storm’s force will pick up early Monday morn­ing as winds gust up to 60 mph and rain in­tens­i­fies. Sandy is ex­pec­ted to linger here on Tues­day.

The hur­ricane’s speed mov­ing up the coast is giv­ing people time to pre­pare to re­lo­cate or pre­pare them­selves and se­cure their prop­er­ties, he said.

“Don’t wait; make plans now,” Nut­ter urged.

The may­or said there are no plans yet to open emer­gency shel­ters, but if that de­cision is made over the week­end, those shel­ters will be at West Phil­adelphia High School and Roxbor­ough High School.

He said the city also is work­ing with the Red Cross and the Sal­va­tion Army to make ready any shel­ters that could be needed.

The De­part­ment of Streets was at work Fri­day clean­ing debris from around the city’s more than 77,000 storm drains. Nut­ter said res­id­ents could pre­vent flood­ing in their neigh­bor­hoods by clean­ing out drains and pick­ing up leaves.

Nut­ter, sur­roun­ded by sev­er­al aides, said the city’s 311 call cen­ter will be open all week­end.

Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Charles Ram­sey said ex­tra po­lice will be work­ing dur­ing the storm. He urged res­id­ents to use the 911 sys­tem only to re­port crimes, fires and oth­er emer­gen­cies.

The state has crews out clean­ing high­way storm drains, too, said Eu­gene Blaum, a Pennsylvania De­part­ment of Trans­port­a­tion spokes­man.

By Fri­day af­ter­noon, a few North­east events were can­celled in an­ti­cip­a­tion of Hur­ricane Sandy:

—  The Rus­si­an Her­it­age Fest­iv­al that was sched­uled for Sunday, Oct. 28, at Con­greg­a­tion Shaare Shamay­im on Ver­ree Road has been res­ched­uled to Nov. 25

—   A ce­re­mony to her­ald the of­fi­cial open­ing of Russo Park, Tor­res­dale and Cottman av­en­ues, on Monday, Oct. 29, has been post­poned. No new date has been set.

—      Free Lib­rary pat­rons should check with their neigh­bor­hood branches to learn if any pro­grams have been can­celled. People can also call the Ex­ten­sion Di­vi­sion Of­fice that man­ages all of the neigh­bor­hood lib­rar­ies at 215-686-5310.

If any weath­er-re­lated emer­gency prompts Lib­rary clos­ures, they will be pos­ted on the web­site. A sys­tem­wide shut­down is in­dic­ated on the lib­rary’s home page, freel­ib­rary.org. In­di­vidu­al neigh­bor­hood lib­rary no­tices are pos­ted un­der “find a loc­a­tion.”  ht­tp://lib­www.freel­ib­rary.org/branches/brnlist.cfm.

    The North­east Times will be pub­lish­ing fre­quent up­dates on the storm, be­gin­ning Monday, on

www.north­east­times.com  To reach the news­room to re­port dam­age from the storm,  call 215-354-3025.

Hur­ricane Sandy by the num­bers:

911 only to re­port crime, fire and oth­er emer­gen­cies

311 for city ser­vices

511 for Pennsylvania road­ways in­form­a­tion

PECO 1 800 494-4000

PECO hot line 215 841-4141

PGW, to re­port a gas leak, 215-235-1212

Phil­adelphia Wa­ter De­part­ment, 215-685-6300

Weath­er chan­nel Sandy up­dates:

ht­tp://www.weath­er.com/news/weath­er-hur­ricanes/de­pres­sion-storm-eight­een-20121020

 On­line:

Phil­adelphia Emer­gency Man­age­ment:

www.phila.gov/ready

Broad­casters:

Chan­nel 64, the city’s gov­ern­ment ac­cess chan­nel

All ma­jor broad­casters will be air­ing storm cov­er­age

 

Safety tips:

Make sure you have sup­plies of food, wa­ter and medi­cines for your fam­ily and pets. Make sure you have a manu­al can open­er.

Make sure you have a bat­tery-powered ra­dio, flash­lights and bat­ter­ies.

Save your com­puter data on a flash drive or on CD disk. Make sure you have an op­er­at­ing surge pro­tect­or for your elec­tron­ic equip­ment like com­puters.

Get emer­gency num­bers and in­sur­ance policy num­bers ready and on your cell phones.

Charge all cell phones and keep them charged.

Gas up all your cars soon­er, not later.

Take down out­side dec­or­a­tions and put away any­thing that can be put in­doors.

Do not enter flooded base­ments be­cause you run the risk of elec­tro­cu­tion.

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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