East Providence officials brace for possible impact of Hurricane Sandy

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EAST PROVIDENCE — Already late Friday afternoon, Oct. 26, city officials planned to gather to discuss East Providence's preparedness for the possible ramifications of Hurricane Sandy, the so-called "super storm" rambling up the east coast and expected to impact Southern New England early next week.

Department heads from East Providence met Friday at the city's Emergency Operation Center located in Fire Station No. 3 on North Broadway in Rumford.

"We're taking this very seriously," said E.P. Fire Department Chief Joseph Klucznik.

"We have a contingency plan in place," the Chief continued. "You know we're always accused in the emergency management community of over-reacting to these kinds of situations, but we have to make decisions now in preparation for what might happen Monday or Tuesday."

Chief Klucznik said Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency officials are preparing for the chance winds from Sandy will blow consistently around 50 to 60 mile per hour. Worst case scenario, gusts could reach anywhere from 80 to 100 mph. Forecasts also call for 5 to 7 inches of rain from the storm.

"We have to anticipate downed tree limbs and power lines, flooding. They're saying a storm surge could come up the bay," Chief Klucznik added. "We want to stay in front of this thing. We don't want to wait until the last minute."

East Providence Public Works Director Stephen Coutu shared the Chief's sentiments, saying he was "hoping for the best, but just preparing for the worst. That's what we have to do."

Mr. Coutu said his department is making sure all pumps, generators and other equipment are in proper working order.

"We're expecting a lot of rain and tree limbs to come down, leaves blocking drains, just a lot of water and debris," Mr. Coutu added.

The Department of Public Works is offering free sand to residents throughout the weekend. The sand will be available outside the main gate of the DPW facility on Commercial Way.

HELPFUL STORM LINKS:

Hurricane preparation guidelines from the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency:

http://www.riema.ri.gov/preparedness/hazards/hurricane2009.php

Hurricane/storm preparation kit: http://www.riema.ri.gov/preparedness/preparenow/index.php

Interactive tracking map from The Weather Channel:

http://www.b.weather.com/weather/hurricanecentral/tracker/2012/sandy

Hurricane Sandy

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.