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Officials Prepared for Snow Storm; Town Ready To Declare State of Emergency

Parked vehicles have to be removed from public roads by 5 p.m.; Senior center will be closed Friday.

Supervisor Larry Cantwell oversees an emergency preparedness meeting with town department heads on Thursday morning, just a few hours after being sworn into office. Credit: Taylor K. Vecsey
Supervisor Larry Cantwell oversees an emergency preparedness meeting with town department heads on Thursday morning, just a few hours after being sworn into office. Credit: Taylor K. Vecsey
On his first day in office, East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell held an emergency preparedness meeting with heads of town departments to ensure they are ready for the possible blizzard that could drop as much as a foot of snow on the East End.

Superintendent of Highways Stephen Lynch said that Hercules is expected to last about 16 hours, with the worst hitting Thursday evening. However, due to high winds and frigid temperatures, periods of "whiteouts" and loss of power through the weekend are the biggest concern, he said.

Lynch asked Cantwell to declare a state of emergency later this afternoon so that the town is eligible for reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Administration to cover costs and damage repair from the storm.

Cantwell said the declaration will take effect at 4 p.m. Vehicles parked on the side of both primary and secondary roads have to be removed by 5 p.m., officials said. Otherwise, the police department will tow them make way for snow plows, Chief Michael Sarlo said. If drivers are still doing business in hamlet centers, they are being asked to move their vehicles to parking lots.

In East Hampton Village, officials are meeting at 4 p.m. to decided how to proceed. 

During Nemo, last year's snow storm, the town was eligible for reimbursements 48 hours after the declaration was made, so timing was key, Lynch said. He added that the highway department received $149,000 after that storm.

Officials decided that the senior center will be closed on Friday, and that those receiving adult day care will be taken home early on Thursday. Seniors will be sent home with a frozen meal to substitute for the meal they will miss on Friday.

Diane Patrizio, the director of Human Resources, said calls were made to seniors on Tuesday to prepare them for the storm. Calls will be made again on Thursday afternoon to ensure they are aware of how to reach the town in case their power goes out and they no longer have heat. Patrizio said many of the seniors on her call lists have her cellphone number and that she would coordinate with other town officials if they were in need.

Bruce Bates, the town emergency preparedness coordinator, said the joint Village and Town Emergency Operations Center will open on Thursday at 7 p.m. to field calls about downed trees and wires, outages, etc. A soft opening will be earlier. Check back to Patch for the phone number to use, as soon as it becomes available. All emergency calls should be made through 911 dispatchers.

Bates said the town would assess outages and in the event of mass outages, they would open the Montauk Playhouse Community Center and/or the American Legion in Amagansett.

However, because there is an issue with the generator at the Montauk Playhouse, in the even of a loss of power there, the town could alternatively use the Montauk School, Bates said.

Cantwell said he wants the town to be able to help anyone who is without power, even if it is an isolated issue. He recalled a situation during the snow storm last year when a woman who lives in the village called him at home when she got stuck in her car in her driveway after she lost power at home. He picked her up and drove her to Village Hall, where he worked as Village Administrator, so that she and her dog could keep warm.

"I'm not telling this as a war story," he said. "We need a plan to respond to that. I'd hate to think someone was in that situation and in need."

Bates said emergency workers would be able to help in such situations, by bringing them to a town facility that was already staffed.

Get email updates on Winter Storm Hercules in East Hampton Town and more. 
Nanci e. LaGarenne January 02, 2014 at 01:22 PM
curious as to why the generator at the Playhouse is "an issue." Since the the Playhouse is an emergency site, shouldn't they have a generator without issues? Also did the Retreat ever get their generator from Santa??? Theses hours not be issues. Let us get the priorities in order! Preparedness, not panic, is what we need. If I hear another bs town meeting addressing building for $$$, I will scream. Put the effort into your citizens and their safety, not opportunists who will bury the Town as we know it. Enough said.
Nanci e. LaGarenne January 02, 2014 at 01:22 PM
these should not be issues, is what I meant to type.

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