Montgomery County Commissioners held a press conference Sunday at the Washington Fire Co. in Conshohocken to inform residents on what to expect from the storm, what they should be doing to prepare and how to stay safe, and resources available from county government.
"We are not weather forecasters, but we know that Hurricane Sandy will be a severe storm," said Montgomery County Board of Commissioners Chairman Josh Shapiro, who was joined by Vice Chair Leslie Richards, as well as county and local safety officials.
What to Expect
According to Shapiro, the county's most recent reports call for sustained winds of 45 to 65 miles per hour, Sunday through Tuesday; accumulation of four to eight inches of rain, which will increase in certain areas; and extensive power outages and record flooding due to leaves that are falling into, and blocking, drains.
Shapiro said that residents in Royersford have already been asked to voluntarily evacuate, while other flood-prone areas - including Pottstown, Mont Clare, Norristown, Conshohocken, Glenside and Whitmarsh - should prepare for a potential evacuation.
How to Prepare
Richards said that, due to the possibility of extended power outages, residents should have enough supplies to take care of themselves for three days.
Items she mentioned included one gallon of water per person per day, non-perishable food items that are ready to eat, including a manual can opener, a First Aid kit with flashlights and extra batteries, and personal care items.
Shapiro mentioned the importance of taking medicine, cash, important documents, insurance cards and identification if residents leave their homes, and getting a full tank of gas before the storm begins.
Safety During the Storm
"I cannot emphasis enough how important it is to listen and to be in tuned with what you need to to do to be safe," said Richards, who cited a fatality in Whitemarsh last year during Hurricane Irene.
"We lost a life of somebody who was going to work in the early hours of the morning who tried to go through a road that had water covering the road," Richards said. "It didn't look like there was deep water there, but the car got stuck - and unfortunately this woman got out of her car and got swept away and drowned."
The commissioners also highlighted the "Turn Around Don't Drown" law, which was recently signed by Governor Tom Corbett and imposes fines and license points for motorists who ignore warning signs and drive on roads that have been blocked of for flooding or other hazardous conditions.
In addition to the fines, motorists will be required to pay the expenses for the water rescue.
Richards also brought up safety issues that may not occur to some residents - including that using generators can increase carbon monixide poisoning, and that charcoal grills should never be used inside.
Montgomery County Resources
Shapiro stated that the county government has been working with county and local police, fire and EMS for many days to ensure that every part of the county government is prepared, and to assure the ability to communicate and continue government functions.
Residents are welcome to use any of the following three pet-friendly, handicapped-accessible evacuation facilities, which will be staffed by Red Cross Personnel and open at 7 p.m. on Sunday:
Cheltehnam High School
Norristown High School
Pottstown High School
Shapiro encouraged all residents to, in the case of a true emergency, call 9-1-1.
Anything short of an emergency, Shapiro said, residents are asked to call a special hotline set up for questions at 610-631-9700, beginning at 7 p.m. on Sunday.
Information can also be obtained online at montco.alertpa.org.
Shapiro also asked residents to be sure not to report power outages to 9-1-1 or the special hotline, but to call your power company directly.