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Hope for best, expect the worst: Responding to hurricanes, nor’easters and ice events

Despite some heavy rain and wind, the post-Labor Day weather has generally been hot and dry. But the 2022 hurricane season has arrived, necessitating preparations for a damaging storm.

Police Chief Jim Read, who is the Island’s Emergency Management Coordinator, outlined plans at the Sept. 13 Town Board work session. He said it’s not just hurricanes that concern him, but nor’easters and ice storms that can arrive and persist.

He praised PSEG-LI for providing crews on the Island in advance of storms, noting the company has worked to restore power as quickly as possible. Still, he warned, people should prepare ahead and have food, water, medications, flashlights and other supplies they might need to carry them and their families through for three to five days without power.

He also advised if people experience outages, instead of calling the Police Department, they should phone PSEG directly at 1-800-490-0075.

The chief has also had outreach to telephone providers to coordinate getting lines repaired that could be damaged by a storm, and noted there are provisions for residents to go to emergency shelters that are equipped with generators.

Shelter Island School is the town’s main shelter, which will accommodate pets, the chief said. He noted Animal Control Officer Jenny Zahler would be on hand to assist pet owners in securing their animals.

Representatives of groups that have worked with Chief Read include:

• The Fire Department, which in addition to attending to their main responsibilities, assists in evacuations in an emergency.

• The Highway and Public Works crews that clear roadways, shuts them down when necessary, protects buildings and helps clear storm debris.

• Senior Services, which starts its outreach to frail residents 72 hours before a storm is expected, helping them to get situated with family or friends, and attends to their special needs as well as reaching out with phone calls to those who stay put but may develop problems.

• The Building Department, which checks structural damage.

• The Town supervisor who coordinates information and declares emergency status.

• The Recreation Department, which closes beaches, suspends activities and provides vehicles to assist with evacuations.

• Ferry companies, which plan for emergency transportation.

• The Village of Dering Harbor, to ensure its residents have up-to-date information and assistance.