Northeast Times

Sandy has arrived

North­east res­id­ents squeezed in last minute shop­ping on Monday morn­ing in pre­par­a­tion for Hur­ricane Sandy.

Shop­pers have cleared shelves of wa­ter at the Path­mark in Frank­lin Mills Mall.

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North­east Phil­adelphia pre­pared Monday for ma­jor flood­ing along two big creeks, the Poquess­ing and the Pennypack, and some res­id­ents who lived in those flood-prone areas left their homes to stay with fam­il­ies or at a city shel­ter as the mon­ster storm called Hur­ricane Sandy poun­ded its way up the East Coast.

The Cat­egory One hur­ricane — dubbed a Franken­storm — was ex­pec­ted to cov­er hun­dreds of miles and linger longer than the last big storm, Hur­ricane Irene, which struck in 2011.

The rain star­ted as sprinkles in Phil­adelphia on Sunday af­ter­noon and by Monday it had brought heavy rains to the city. High winds ex­pec­ted Monday af­ter­noon were ex­pec­ted to bring down tree limbs and cause wide­spread power out­ages. A high tide on Monday was ex­pec­ted to in­tensi­fy flood­ing, and the Delaware and Schuylkill were likely to flood.

May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter is­sued a de­clar­a­tion of emer­gency in Phil­adelphia that went in­to ef­fect at 4 p.m. Sunday, ac­tiv­ated the city’s emer­gency op­er­a­tions cen­ter and opened three shel­ters, in­clud­ing one at Samuel Fels High School in North­east Phil­adelphia.

On Fri­day, Nut­ter held a press con­fer­ence to tell res­id­ents to take the storm ser­i­ously, and pre­pare for it over the week­end by stock­ing food and wa­ter and buy­ing bat­ter­ies and candles. Some people were shop­ping as late as Monday in their loc­al su­per­mar­kets.

“I’m buy­ing my last cook­ing meal for to­night,” said Jack Thack­rah, while point­ing to a pack­age of shrimp in his shop­ping cart at Path­mark in Frank­lin Mills. “I’m buy­ing things that my kids and my wife will eat that we can just open up and eat. I bought two LED Lan­terns at Big Lots and left the rest for every­body else.

“My wife is pre­par­ing for the end of the world,” he ad­ded with a laugh. “I’m more laid back about it. If the storm hits, it hits. We’re as pre­pared as we can be.”

Storm shop­ping was wide­spread.

“We’ve been selling out of a lot of bat­ter­ies, candles and wa­ter, but we’re stay­ing open,” said Erica Miller, a North­east res­id­ent who works at the Path­mark.

“Most people are look­ing for the ba­sic stuff, like wa­ter,” ex­plained Milton DuPrey, a gen­er­al man­ager at Wal­mart of Frank­lin Mills Mall. “We sold out of things like flash­lights and D bat­ter­ies.”

By early Monday af­ter­noon, however, two state agen­cies were ur­ging mo­tor­ists to stay off the road­ways in the east­ern part of the state.

“PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turn­pike Com­mis­sion are strongly ur­ging mo­tor­ists to avoid all un­ne­ces­sary travel in east­ern Pennsylvania in­clud­ing the area from Har­ris­burg north to the New York bor­der, east to the New Jer­sey bor­der and south to the Mary­land bor­der,” the agen­cies said in a joint news re­lease.

By noon Monday, the state was con­sid­er­ing ban­ning all travel with the ex­cep­tion of emer­gency vehicles if wind speeds con­tin­ue to in­crease.

Phil­adelphia schools, gov­ern­ment of­fices, air­ports and busi­nesses were closed Monday in an­ti­cip­a­tion of the large, slow-mov­ing storm’s ar­rival. Events throughout the re­gion were can­celled, and SEPTA scrubbed all its ser­vices by 2 a.m. Monday. Speed re­stric­tions were pos­ted on the state’s ma­jor high­ways.

Winds were ex­pec­ted to pick up Monday af­ter­noon. The strongest gusts of up to 80 mph were ex­pec­ted between 4 p.m. Monday and 6 a.m. Tues­day.

As of Monday morn­ing as the North­east Times was get­ting ready to go to press, the Delaware Val­ley was wet, but still await­ing the worst of the “Franken­storm.”

The may­or on Fri­day had warned res­id­ents who live in flood-prone areas to evac­u­ate by mid­after­noon Sunday. In the North­east, he said, any­one who lives near the Pennypack Creek should get ready to leave. As of mid­morn­ing Monday, the creek was not over­flow­ing. A spokes­man for the city’s 311 call cen­ter said there were no re­ports of flood­ing along the Pennypack. Up­dates, the spokes­man said, would be pos­ted on the Philly511 travel info. Web site, www.511pa.com.

Phil­adelphia’s pub­lic, Cath­ol­ic and charter schools did not re­open Monday. City of­fices re­mained closed, too, and only pub­lic safety and emer­gency ser­vice per­son­nel were ex­pec­ted to re­port to work.

“This is all about pub­lic safety,” Nut­ter said at a Sunday news con­fer­ence. “We do not what our chil­dren out in hur­ricane-dan­ger­ous winds, trees and pos­sibly tree limbs fall­ing, power lines on the ground and flood wa­ters rising.

“Chil­dren as well as adults should not be out in those con­di­tions,” the may­or said.

The Holmes­burg Civic As­so­ci­ation asked mem­bers to look in on eld­erly or in­val­id neigh­bors and to cur­tail wa­ter use.

Util­ity com­pan­ies mo­bil­ized over the week­end to get ready to deal with ex­pec­ted power out­ages. Loc­al power com­pan­ies brought in crews and equip­ment from oth­er util­it­ies as far away as New Mex­ico, Texas and Ok­lahoma. PECO has mo­bil­ized more than 3,000 em­ploy­ees, con­tract­ors and out-of-state crews to re­spond to the dev­ast­at­ing ef­fects of this po­ten­tially re­cord-break­ing storm. This massive ef­fort in­cludes more than 1,500 field per­son­nel from util­it­ies as far away as Ten­ness­ee, Ken­tucky, Louisi­ana and Mis­sis­sippi, as well as field per­son­nel from PECO’s Chica­go-based sis­ter util­ity ComEd. 

The Red Cross had set up shel­ters throughout the area. As of Monday morn­ing, 46 people and 11 pets already were in the shel­ter at Samuel Fels High School, ac­cord­ing to spokes­man Dave Shrader. Ninety-six people and five pets were at West Phil­adelphia High School and 21 people and two pets were at Roxbor­ough High.

If you had been plan­ning on head­ing to any kind of event Monday or Tues­day, chances are it was scratched.

All of Holy Fam­ily Uni­versity’s loc­a­tions and all Com­munity Col­lege of Phil­adelphia cam­puses were closed Monday and Tues­day. Frank­lin Mills was closed Monday. State li­quor stores didn’t re­open Monday. The Free Lib­rary of Phil­adelphia also did not open. May­fair Town Watch can­celed its Monday night ses­sion.

Train­ing for po­lice re­cruits was sched­uled to start Monday, but was post­poned un­til later this week.

One Far North­east man who had been plan­ning to go to one of At­lantic City’s casi­nos de­cided it would be bet­ter to stay home in­stead. Get­ting cof­fee and news­pa­pers at the Wawa at Philmont and By­berry on Monday, the man said he changed his mind when he saw a TV re­port that Sandy was go­ing to hit the shore hard.

“I like to gamble,” said Al, who wouldn’t give his last name, “but I thought the trip would be too much of a risk.”

The casi­nos wer­en’t gambling either. They closed Sunday af­ter­noon.

John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

Mi­kala Jam­is­on and Melissa Yerkov con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Sandy by the Num­bers

911 only to re­port crime, fire and oth­er emer­gen­cies

311 for city ser­vices

511 for Pennsylvania road­ways in­form­a­tion

Mo­tor­ists can check road con­di­tions on more than 2,900 miles of state roads by call­ing 5-1-1 or by vis­it­ing www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and avail­able 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warn­ings, weath­er fore­casts, av­er­age traffic speeds on urb­an in­ter­states and ac­cess to more than 670 traffic cam­er­as.

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

On­line:

Phil­adelphia Emer­gency Man­age­ment:

www.phila.gov/ready

or

ht­tp://oem.readyph­il­adelphia.org/RelId/606683/IS­vars/de­fault/Home.htm

Weath­er chan­nel Sandy up­dates:

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

Sandy 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.

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You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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