New Castle News

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October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy: Region braces for effects from storm

NEW CASTLE — Lawrence County will miss the brunt of Hurricane Sandy.

But weather experts still say things won’t be pleasant around here for the next few days.

And the storm is putting organizations — ranging from the Red Cross to Penn Power — on alert, as high winds, heavy rain, flooding and power outages are anticipated in western Pennsylvania.

As of Sunday night, Hurricane Sandy was expected to make landfall late Monday or early Tuesday in New Jersey. But its impact is expected to be broad and long lasting along much of the metropolitan section of the Eastern Seaboard, with as many as 50 million people affected.

Plus, Sandy is just part of the problem. An arctic front is dipping south and expected to collide with Sandy’s moist tropical air. Some forecasters are describing it as a superstorm, almost in cataclysmic terms.

Lawrence County will be spared the worst, mainly because it is so far inland. But the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh still has issued flooding and high-wind advisories for the region.

Several days of rain will continue throughout the week, prompting a flood watch to commence Monday morning through Tuesday evening. Meanwhile, a high wind watch is in effect from Monday afternoon through Tuesday evening.

Sustained winds of 25 to 35 mph are anticipated during the storm, with gusts as high as 60 mph.

As a result, people living in low-lying areas are being urged to monitor the potential for flooding, while everyone is being cautioned to prepare for prolonged power outages.

Among the organizations preparing for this week’s hazardous weather locally is the American Red Cross. Officials with the agency say they are in the process of identifying potential shelter locations, organizing relief supplies and stocking emergency response vehicles.

The Red Cross also is urging residents to have their own disaster preparations and to make efforts to remain informed of dangerous weather conditions. Individuals should have several days of fresh water, food, flashlights and batteries and first aid kits on hand.

To find shelter in the area, people can download the Red Cross Hurricane app, visit the Red Cross website at redcross.org, call (800) 733-2767 or check local media outlets.

Residents are also urged to register on the Red Cross Safe and Well website, a secure and easy-to-use online tool that helps families connect during emergencies. To register, visit RedCross.org or call (800) 733-2767. This site also connects with the Twitter and Facebook accounts of users.

Noting the preparations for this storm are widespread and extensive, the Red Cross is seeking public donations to assist with the effort. These can be made online or to the local Red Cross office at 222 N. Mercer St.

Meanwhile, a press release from FirstEnergy, parent firm of Penn Power, said the company is bracing for the storm and preparing to mobilize employees to respond. In the eastern part of Pennsylvania, FirstEnergy is anticipating some power outages could last seven to 10 days.

The company said it has 700 linemen, hazard crews and internal support resources secured. Plus, another 500 to 600 private electrical contractors are to be available to assist with recovery. And another 1,000 private tree contractors are to be available as well.

FirstEnergy said it will deploy people to areas hardest hit.

People who lose their power can report outages to (888) 544-4877, or click the “Report Outage” link at www.firstenergycorp.com via a smartphone.

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