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News Release

August 27, 2011      

Steinhaus Directs County Response to Hurricane Irene
Ten Mile River Significant Concern for Rapid Flooding

Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus and numerous other county officials continue to monitor the path Hurricane Irene and prepare for the potential storm impacts on Dutchess County.  The County Executive cut short an annual family vacation, returning today to help coordinate county emergency operations.    Throughout the day,  County Executive Steinhaus and county emergency response officials as well as partner agencies have participated on a variety of conference calls with the National Weather Service, New York State Emergency Management as well as Central Hudson.

At the County Executive’s direction, the Dutchess County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is currently on a partial activation throughout the evening (Saturday) with full activation of the EOC beginning Sunday morning at 6am.  County Executive Steinhaus will be in the EOC this evening along with senior staff and representatives from numerous county agencies including Emergency Response, Office of Computer Information Systems (OCIS)  Public Works, Sheriff’s Office and many more as well as partner agencies including American Red Cross, New York State Police.    Additional departments and partner agencies, including Central Hudson, will be staffed in the EOC tomorrow.

 “All of our agencies have been mobilized and ready to deal with storm impacts.    It is important residents heed storm warnings and take the necessary precautions and preparations to ensure they are ready for the storm as well.   The impacts of this storm could be massive and it is certain that the resources of government, volunteer and career emergency responders as well as the local utilities will be strained,” said Steinhaus.

Hurricane Irene is a 500 mile wide storm.  New York State, including Dutchess County, is already seeing scattered bands of rain from the storm.    Weather forecasts indicate the storm will become much worse in the Dutchess County area overnight as rainfall and wind begin around 6pm.    The full impact of Hurricane Irene is expected to hit this area by Sunday morning.   Winds are predicted at 35 to 50 mph, with gusts of 60 to 70 mph.   Rainfall total is expected to range from 4 to 8 inches, at a rate of 1 to 2 inches per hour.    The storm is expected to begin exiting the region Sunday night.

Flooding is a significant concern for Dutchess County.    The Ten Mile River, in eastern Dutchess, is anticipated to rise rapidly due to its valley positioning and is expected to hit moderate flood stage by noon Sunday.  The Wappinger Creek is expected to reach moderate flood stage overnight on Sunday into Monday morning.  Residents who are prone to flooding from those areas are advised to prepare for flooding conditions.    Importantly, those in the immediate area of the Ten Mile River should consider alternate shelter options with family or friends tonight as the water is expected to rise very quickly in a short period of time.    The American Red Cross is currently coordinating a shelter location at the Taconic DDSO site located at 26 Center Circle in Wassaic.   The shelter is expected to be open tonight (Saturday) at 8pm.   For more information regarding the Wassaic shelter, including transportation needs, please call Dawn at 845-559-4797.

American Red Cross is also currently operating an emergency shelter at the Civic Center in City of Poughkeepsie for any resident who needs overnight shelter.  American Red Cross will be coordinating other shelter locations should they become necessary and several local municipalities have already announced shelter availability.  Dutchess County Medical Reserve Corps volunteers will be assisting the Red Cross with staffing for shelter operations.  The most up to date information about American Red Cross shelters is available by calling the United Way’s 2-1-1 information line or 471-1900. 

All residents should be prepared for storm impacts including flooding and power outages.  Central Hudson officials have geared up for the storm, with additional utility crews from as far away as Kansas being mobilized.   Hurricane Irene will have a multi-region, multi-state impact.   Residents should be prepared for a multi-day event as emergency response, public works and utility crews will be strained.

Residents are also reminded to call 9-1-1 ONLY in the event of an emergency.    Storm information including reports of power outages, shelter information, dry ice inquiries and other storm related questions should be directed to 2-1-1 or local media and utility websites.   Information will also be available on the County’s social media pages including Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dutchess-County-Government/73646813346  and Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/DutchessCoGov.

Residents should be ready to be self-sufficient for at least three days, no matter what the emergency.   Below is a basic emergency checklist for families to use as a guide.

  • Water – one gallon per person per day.
  • Food – ready to eat or requiring minimal water
  • Manual can opener
  • Radio – battery operated
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Personal hygiene items – toothpaste, toilet paper, soap, etc.
  • Cash – power outages could impact ATMs.
  • First Aid Kit
  • Copy of important documents and contact phone numbers
  • Medication & medical supplies used on a regular basis – be sure to have a supply to last for several days.
  • Large, heavy duty trash bags.   Garbage service may be disrupted.
  • Pet supplies including food, water and extra litter

Prepare for flooding conditions:

  • Know the safest route from your home or business to high, safe ground if it necessary to leave in a hurry.
  • Have a 'family escape' plan and identify a meeting place if family members become separated.
  • Make an itemized list of all valuables including furnishings, clothing and other personal property. Keep the list in a safe place.
  • Plan what to do with your pets.
  • Have a portable radio, flashlights, extra batteries and emergency cooking equipment available.
  • Keep your automobile fueled. If electric power is cut off, gasoline stations may not be able to pump fuel for several days. Have a small disaster supply kit in the trunk of your car.
  • Find out how many feet your property is above and below possible flood levels. When predicted flood levels are broadcast, you can determine if you may be flooded.
  • Keep materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber handy for emergency water-proofing.

If Flood Conditions Do Occur:

  • If local officials advise evacuation, do so promptly.
  • If directed to a specific location, go there.
  • Know where the shelters are located.
  • Bring outside possessions inside the house or tie them down securely. This includes lawn furniture, garbage cans, and other movable objects.
  • If there is time, move essential items and furniture to upper floors in the house. Disconnect electrical appliances that cannot be moved. DO NOT touch them if you are wet or standing in water.
  • If you are told to shut off water, gas or electrical services before leaving, do so.
  • Secure your home: lock all doors and windows.

Travel With Care:

  • Leave early to avoid being marooned on flooded roads.
  • Make sure you have enough fuel for your car.
  • Follow recommended routes. DO NOT sightsee.
  • As you travel, monitor NOAA Weather Radio and local radio broadcasts for the latest information.
  • Watch for washed-out roads, earth-slides, broken water or sewer mains, loose or downed electrical wires, and falling or fallen objects.
  • Watch for areas where rivers or streams may suddenly rise and flood, such as highway dips, bridges, and low areas.
  • DO NOT attempt to drive over a flooded road. Turn around and go another way.
  • DO NOT underestimate the destructive power of fast-moving water. Two feet of fast-moving flood water will float your car. Water moving at two miles per hour can sweep cars off a road or bridge.
  • If you are in your car and water begins to rise rapidly around you, abandon the vehicle immediately.

For complete checklists for emergency planning, including specific tips for preparing for storms, flooding, hurricanes and evacuations, visit the county’s website at www.dutchessny.gov and click on the Emergency Preparedness tab under Quick Links on the right side.

Other Notes:
Dutchess County parks, including Bowdoin Park in Poughkeepsie and Wilcox Park in Milan, will be closed as of 6pm today and will not reopen until Monday, August 29th.

There will be no Dutchess County LOOP system RAIL LINK service on Monday, August 29th at the request of Metro North, due to anticipated disruptions to normal rail service schedules.

County Executive Steinhaus concluded, “It is important residents take this storm seriously and take all necessary precautions to ensure their families’ safety.”

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