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Fred Stabbert III | Democrat
Monday was a day to get ready across Sullivan County as Hurricane Sandy made landfall. Workers from The First National Bank of Jeff walk out the door at 1 p.m. yesterday to get home before the storm and, like many businesses across the region, will not return to work until Wednesday.
County battens down for Hurricane Sandy
Story by Dan Hust
SULLIVAN COUNTY Hurricane Sandy seemed awfully far away yesterday morning into midday, with cloudy skies the only indication Sullivan County might see a storm.
But by the afternoon, winds had noticeably picked up, and the rain had started, sometimes torrentially. Spotty power outages had also begun.
And by the time you read this, it will likely be quite clear that what the media have dubbed “Frankenstorm” will leave her mark on the county, even if she’s not as locally destructive as her predecessors Irene and Lee.
The county was taking no chances, however, with County Manager David Fanslau declaring a state of emergency yesterday through Wednesday (along with New York State, the towns of Bethel and Fallsburg and the Village of Monticello).
“It’s going to intensify with winds and some rain,” affirmed Sullivan County Public Safety Commissioner Dick Martinkovic yesterday.
The rain is expected to be 1-4 inches about half the amount the county experienced just a month ago when Livingston Manor was inundated.
So Martinkovic is expecting flooding to be relatively minor and “in the usual spots.”
“There will probably be some flash-flooding, but nothing major,” he noted.
New York City had already begun spilling water out of its nearly full Neversink Reservoir in order to minimize the downstream flooding potential.
“They [the National Weather Service] are predicting no major flooding on the Delaware River whatsoever,” added Martinkovic.
The real worry, he said, is the wind sustained speeds of up to 45 MPH, with gusts as high as 65 MPH.
Power, transportation, even emergency response may be affected.
“We may have periods with intense winds where we will not be able to put emergency services out on the roads,” he acknowledged (though such periods are expected to be brief).
That said, “I have no question in my mind they [local emergency responders] will be able to handle this,” he remarked.
The county opened an emergency operations center in White Lake midday yesterday.
“Eighteen agencies will be there, and we’ll stay there as long as we need to,” promised Martinkovic at least until 6 a.m. Wednesday.
Officials around the county have been gearing up for Sandy:
• Town of Bethel: Supervisor Dan Sturm declared a state of emergency lasting through Halloween.
“This situation threatens the public safety,” he advised yesterday.
• Town of Callicoon: Supervisor Tom Bose said the town received permission to clean out debris from flood-prone streams in the Youngsville area, and the owners of the Lake Jeff dam voluntarily agreed to let extra water through in anticipation of heavy rains.
First Student, the local school bus contractor, is ready to evacuate residents if need be, Bose added.
• Town of Cochecton: “We’re all set,” affirmed Supervisor Gary Maas, saying that the local firehouses are manned and the Sullivan West High School in Lake Huntington will serve as a shelter, if necessary.
• Town of Delaware: Supervisor Ed Sykes said he saw the county cleaning out the Kohlertown bridge used by County Route 164 which, when blocked, adds to the hamlet’s flooding woes.
In addition, the highway department moved its equipment to higher ground, away from the vulnerable town barn along the Callicoon Creek in Hortonville.
• Town of Fallsburg: Supervisor Steve Vegliante ordered town offices closed for the duration of the storm, with residents urged to stay off the roads.
SUNY Sullivan, located in Loch Sheldrake, has already been opened by the Red Cross as an emergency shelter.
• Town of Forestburgh: Supervisor Bill Sipos sent out a storm warning to residents over the weekend.
“All measures will be taken to make sure people will be safe,” he vowed.
Sipos declared a state of emergency, lasting through Oct. 31.
• Town of Highland: “Everybody is ready,” confirmed Supervisor Andy Boyar.
The town hall, senior center and ambulance building all in Eldred can serve as shelters, if necessary.
“All three have cooking facilities,” Boyar said. “They’ll be warm and have electric.”
• Town of Liberty: Supervisor Charlie Barbuti said the highway department had been out clearing drains.
“We do have an emergency preparedness plan,” he added.
• Town of Mamakating: “We actually have sandbags for residents available at the town hall and highway garage,” affirmed Supervisor Harold Baird. “If needed, shelters will be open in the town hall and town park.”
Westbrookville’s infamous flooding, he added, “is almost a given,” even with the lower predicted rainfall totals.
“Stay indoors, stay safe, and use your head,” he advised.
• Village of Monticello: Mayor Gordon Jenkins declared a state of emergency and closed village offices for the duration of the storm.
“All emergency departments will be on standby in response to Hurricane Sandy,” he said.
Monticello Casino and Raceway also closed yesterday due to Sandy.
• Town of Neversink: Supervisor Mark McCarthy said the town has been preparing mostly for a windstorm.
“Electric will be out for a couple of days that’s my concern,” he said yesterday. “If the power goes out, the Neversink Firehouse will open immediately.”
The firehouse will serve as both an interim town operations center and an emergency shelter. Though unable to provide shelter, the Tri-Valley school can cook food for the displaced, he added.
• Town of Thompson: Supervisor Tony Cellini closed town offices for today, though the highway and sewer/water departments continue to be staffed 24/7.
“All offices will reopen on Wednesday morning at 8:30 a.m.,” he stated. “Please stay off all roadways and do not travel unless there is an emergency. It is imperative that we keep our roads open for EMS personnel.”