Riverhead Town officials plan for possible evacuations

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Kitchen worker Melissa Muller bags ice as her father, Ricky Muller, helps her load the freezer at the town's senior center Friday in Aquebogue.

The Riverhead Town Board and Police Chief David Hegermiller discussed the town’s plans for dealing with Hurricane Irene at its work session Thursday, though they said is too early to tell if evacuations would be ordered.

Supervisor Sean Walter said it’s too soon to make any decisions, but the Red Cross has designated both the Riverhead High School and Riverhead Middle School as shelters. Though which building would be used first had not been decided.

The Red Cross usually operates a shelter for pets in Yaphank, but that decision also hasn’t been made yet in regard to this storm, the chief said.

The town will be giving regular updates on storm and evacuation information both on its web site at and on Channel 22, as well as through newspapers, radio stations and web sites.

The most likely areas to require evacuation would be mobile home parks and low-lying areas like South Jamesport, Mr. Walter said.

“If it follows the path it’s on now, there’s a very good change there will be evaluations,” he said.

While shelters may be made available, the supervisor said most people would probably prefer to stay with a relative or friend if they are evacuated.

The town has information on steps residents should take during a hurricane on its web site at

Anyone without internet access can call 727-3200 ext. 315 for the information, the chief said.

Residents are urged to obey evacuation orders, Mr. Walter said.

“When you make that decision, even if we ordered a mandatory evacuation, when something floods over, there may be a point where we or the fire rescue are not going to be able to get you,” Mr. Walter said. “Residents need to take heed of this warning. This could be serious. I’m praying that it blows off shore like [Hurricane Earl] did.”

Mr. Walter said anyone with a town permit for a tent has been ordered to take it down by Friday morning. He also asked anyone with a boat to take it out of the water.

“It is a huge mistake to leave your boat in any of these marinas at this particular point, based on what we know,” he said.

The town also will likely close its beaches over the weekend, according to recreation department supervisor Ray Coyne. The movie the recreation department was planning to show at the South Jamesport Beach Saturday night (“Jaws II”) has been rescheduled for Sept. 10, Mr. Coyne added.

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