While it's still unclear exactly what the impact of Hurricane Irene will be on Wakefield and the rest of the area, we do know this: We'll be hit by something, whether it's heavy rain or high winds.
The current National Weather Service (NWS) forecast for Wakefield calls for rain to start on Saturday afternoon and become heavy on Saturday night. On Sunday, tropical storm conditions are possible and by Sunday night, hurricane conditions are possible.
On Thursday morning, WBZ reported that the latest models have a "significant" shift in Irene's track, from over eastern Massachusetts as last predicted, to further west over Long Island and Connecticut.
Weather models overnight and this morning made a pronounced shift to the west. Most models yesterday had the path over eastern Massachusetts, now this morning, many have shifted west towards Long Island and Connecticut.
Potential main impacts from Irene include heavy rain and inland flooding, especially west of the storm, the NWS said. Those east of the storm can expect strong, damaging wind gusts and the possibility of a large storm surge that could result in significant coastal flooding.
"An isolated weak tornado or two are also possible on the north and east side of Irene on Sunday," the NWS statement read. "Seas will build as early as Friday, especially along the southshorline. Anticipate high surf and dangerous rip currents into early next week."
A call to the Wakefield Department of Public Works for comment on what the town of Wakefield is doing to prepare has yet gone unanswered. This article will be updated once we hear more.
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) recommends that every home and business should have a stocked basic emergency supply kit that could be used for any emergency, regardless of the time of year. Everyone should keep certain items around the house and workplace in the event you are isolated for three to five days without power.
Each kit will be unique to each family, but should include a portable radio, flashlight, extra batteries, a supply of non-perishable foods, along with bottled water, a first aid kit, extra prescription medication, and extra food and supplies for infants and pets.
All families should develop a ‘Family Emergency Communication Plan’ to help ensure everyone is safe. You should contact your local authorities to learn about your community’s potential evacuation routes and the location of emergency. It is important to familiarize yourself with your Community’s Emergency Plans before an emergency situation occurs.
Also, develop a Disaster Supply Kit ‘Go Bag’, with essentials in case you must evacuate quickly.
Protecting Your Home
MEMA recommends the following tips for protecting your home:
- Learn the particular hurricane risks for your area. Find out if your home is subject to storm surge or inland flooding.
- Make a record of your personal property. Keep an itemized list of your furniture, clothing and valuables to assist adjusters in case of a claim. Back it up with photographs or video.
- Protect your insurance policies and other important documents in a secure place like a safe deposit box or a watertight box. Many people back up important documents online.
- Keep trees and shrubbery around your home trimmed. Remove diseased or damaged tree limbs that could be blown down, causing damage, during a storm.
- Clear clogged rain gutters. Hurricanes/tropical storms often bring torrential rain. Providing clear drainage will help prevent misdirected flooding.
- Make sure storage sheds, children’s playhouses or other outbuildings are securely anchored, either to a permanent foundation or with straps and ground anchors.
- Make temporary plywood covers to protect windows and sliding doors. Drill holes for screws or lag bolts in each cover and around each window. To save time, use a numbering or lettering system that shows which cover goes with which window. Store the mounting screws or lag bolts with the covers in a place where they are readily accessible. Note: Taping of windows does not prevent them from breaking.
- Make a list of outdoor items to bring inside in case of a storm, such as lawn furniture, trash barrels, hanging plants, toys and awnings. A list will help you more quickly identify anything that can be broken or picked up by strong winds and used as a missile.
- Learn where gas pilots and water mains are located and how to safely shut off all utilities.
- Lock doors and windows to ensure that they are closed tight to help protect against strong winds and rain.
- Buy Flood Insurance. Unlike damage from hurricane winds, water damage from coastal or inland flooding is not covered by homeowners insurance. Contact your local insurance agent or contact the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).