Riverhead preparing for Hurricane Earl

08/31/2010 12:00 AM |

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO
Housekeepers Wesley Mann and Leo Krumholz set up cots Wednesday at Peconic Bay Medical Centert o be used by people in the event that they might be evacuated due to Hurricane Earl. The hospital is also installing a temporary back up generator, so the air conditioning can remain on.

So what does Hurricane Earl have in store for Riverhead?
“So far it appears there’s a chance we may get some tropical force winds, between 30 and 50 miles per hour, and maybe two to three inches of rain,” said Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller, who is the town’s emergency preparedness manager.
But that’s if the current predictions don’t change.
“It’s a little difficult because it’s so far out,” he said. “There’s a lot of uncertainty, so we’re treating it as if the hurricane is going to hit here.”
Many Riverhead residents, particularly those in the Horton Avenue vicinity, are still recovering from flooding in March.
Could there be a repeat?
“Anything is possible, but that’s not being predicted,” Chief Hegermiller said. “There’s been no prediction of flooding so far.”
He said it appears the storm will hit during low tide, which will further reduce the chance of flooding.
“We are basically watching it and putting our response plan into action,” said Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter. “The big concern I see is for the mobile homes. We’re planning to have buses ready to evacuate the mobile home communities to an emergency shelter if necessary.”
Mr. Walter said most mobile homes are only equipped to handle winds of between 60 and 90 miles per hour when they’re strapped down. He said the town is planning to call mobile home communities to alert them of the possible evacuation plan.
The hurricane thrashed the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean on Monday, causing powerful wind and rain, as well as floods on parts of the island.
Earl is the fifth tropical storm and the second major hurricane of the season. As of Tuesday morning the category 4 storm had maximum sustained wind of 135 mph. It is moving west-northwest at 14 mph, threatening the east coast as early as Friday.
The hurricane formed on Sunday and is expected to strengthen over the next few days.
Although the storm will likely come close to Long Island, many experts predict it will miss Montauk Point by more than 100 miles.
If shelters are needed, the Red Cross handles sheltering for Riverhead Town, and has designed the Riverhead High School and Middle School as possible shelters, the chief said.
Riverhead Town has posted some information on its website about things residents should do to prepare for emergencies.
That information deals with creating an emergency plan, preparing a disaster supply kit, and paying attention to local weather forecasts.
The town site also includes links to other agencies, such as the American Red Cross and state, county and federal emergency agencies.
tgannon@timesreview.com