Gov. Peter Shumlin today reiterated that Hurricane Irene is currently heading for the United States and is expected to make landfall sometime this weekend. The current track of the storm has Irene crossing into Vermont as a Tropical Storm overnight Sunday into Monday. A Tropical Storm designation is based on the fact that maximum winds could be between 39 and 73 miles-per-hour.
The Governor, after a briefing today with state and emergency officials, said the storm is expected to bring heavy rains and wind starting late Sunday, and could cause flash flooding throughout Vermont and high winds with widespread power outages. Additional briefings on the track and progress of the hurricane will continue throughout today, Friday and the weekend.
"Although we hope the storm weakens and moves offshore, Vermonters need to prepare for the possibility that Hurricane Irene hits our state," Gov. Shumlin said. Topping the list, he said, is to monitor weather information from the National Weather Service (www.nws.gov/btv ), radio and TV broadcasts, print media, or Internet sources.
In addition, Vermont Emergency Management's preparedness instructions include:
* Clearing your yard of toys, lawn furniture and other objects that could become dangerous if blown around in high winds.
* Stocking up on water, non-perishable food and other supplies to be able to shelter at homes for up to three days.
* Preparing for power outages by stockpiling flashlights and fresh batteries and a battery powered radio. If you have a generator, ensure that it is professionally installed and can be operated without causing a carbon monoxide hazard. Report outages to your electric utility. Be sure you have at least one phone that does not need electricity.
* If local officials order an evacuation, respond immediately. Plan your evacuation route ahead of time, one that brings you over high ground.
* Use text messaging to communicate with family and friends during a storm if possible, rather than cell phone calls. Texts use much less bandwidth than cell phone calls and messages are more likely to get through.
Gov. Shumlin said Department of Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn has ordered all necessary resources of his department to be directed toward preparation for the worst-case scenario for the storm. In addition, Vermont Emergency Management has arranged for staffing for the state Emergency Operations Center over the weekend should conditions warrant.
State agencies, including Transportation and Agriculture, are preparing now for potential problems impacting their jurisdictions; the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is charged with monitoring the Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon; hospitals will report to the Department of Health as warranted.
VEM has been in constant contact with the National Weather Service to receive updates as they become available, and has arranged for resources from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to be deployed to Vermont should assistance be necessary. FEMA already has a presence in Vermont at its Joint Field Office for spring storm recovery; these personnel would be activated for the Irene response.