Top town question: Do we or don’t we evacuate?

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Steve Burns with dogs Tashia and Zeus along a section of Green Street in South Jamesport following Hurricane Irene in August 2011

To evacuate or not evacuate? That is the question.

As they consider the most prudent response to the threats of high winds and flooding anticipated with the arrival of Hurricane Sandy, town officials must first decide whether to require the evacuation of some areas, particularly low-lying regions, and then open shelters for the displaced.

Riverhead officials expect to no more following this afternoon’s emergency management personnel meeting, said Supervisor Sean Walter.

He is most concerned for the safety of residents living south of Peconic Bay Boulevard, along Creek Road in Wading River and in unsecured mobile homes. If any areas are to be evacuated, those would be the ones, the supervisor said.

There are an estimated 1,300 mobile homes in Riverhead, said Mr. Walter, but it’s not known how many have not been “stapped down” to prevent them from moving in high winds.

The town must also decide if it will follow the path taken during Hurricane Irene 14 months ago to open a shelter in the Riverhead school and bus people there.

With the Town of Southampton already deciding to open a shelter in Hampton Bays, Riverhad can transport residents in need of shelter there rather than opening its own shelter, which is a massive undertaking, the supervisor said.

With Halloween just days away, Mr. Walter said he hadn’t expected to face such choices at this time.

“It’s a scary thought,” he said. “I thought we had gotten through all this, but I guess not.”