Long Island’s county executives urged residents to prepare hurricane emergency kits and evacuation plans, but said officials are better prepared for a major storm than they were before superstorm Sandy.
“We have a simple message: Be prepared, not scared,” Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said Tuesday at a news conference in Hauppauge.
Suffolk County officials including County Executive Steve Bellone said the county has been updating its emergency management response plan and meeting with towns and villages to improve communication and coordination.
“We’re ready,” Bellone said. “We’re working every day to be prepared.”
Officials said that since Sandy in October 2012, utilities and the Long Island Red Cross have become better prepared for natural disasters.
PSEG Long Island has trimmed “thousands of miles” of trees away from power lines, put up new poles that can sustain 130 mph winds and strengthened electrical substations, PSEG president and chief operating officer David Daly said.
PSEG Long Island also has improved customer communication and crew-deployment methods for major emergencies, Daly said.
Bob DeMarinis, a vice president for National Grid, said the gas company now has a helicopter to provide real-time information to its command center and a new mobile command unit.
Liz Barker, interim chief executive of the American Red Cross of Long Island, said the organization has deployed dozens of trailers stocked with emergency supplies, including blankets, flashlights, crank radios and cellphone chargers, to locations just outside flood zones.
Nassau and Suffolk officials said they have additional resources, such as high-axle vehicles to go into flooded areas and extra generators to power traffic signals.
“We are treating extreme weather events as the new normal,” Bellone said.
Mangano said residents in flood zones should prepare an emergency plan to stay with friends or family in case of emergency. He also reminded residents to come up with plans for pets.
Red Cross officials said emergency preparedness kits should include enough food, water and basic supplies such as medicine to last for three days. Kits also should contain copies of important documents.
Federal forecasters on Friday predicted a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season in 2016.
The Climate Prediction Center, which is under the umbrella
of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has predicted 10 to 16 named storms for the hurricane season, with four to eight becoming hurricanes.
One to four storms are expected to become major — a Category 3 or higher.
The season begins Wednesday and runs until Nov. 30.
With Patricia Kitchen