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Is Your Easton Family Hurricane-Ready?

EASTON, Conn. — Valerie Buckley has lived in Easton since 1975. Whenever there is an extreme storm in town, her house gets hit.

"In 1992, during Hurricane Andrew, an 80-foot oak tree demolished our whole deck and lower roof and took parts of the higher roof," said Buckley, who is Easton's senior center director. She has placed lightning conductors on her house because it has been struck three times in the past. "I never stay home because I'm surrounded by trees."

Buckley plans to hide out in the senior center if Hurricane Irene hits Easton hard. The senior center — which can run on generators — is always offered for Easton residents during a storm.

Hurricane Irene threatens to bring heavy rain, wind, coastal flooding and possible damages to the area by Sunday, according to the National Weather Service . It was upgraded to a Category 3 hurricane Wednesday, calling for a storm surge of 9 to 12 feet and sustained winds of 111 to 130 mph. Damage in a Category 3 storm may be extensive on small buildings with low roofs, large trees and branches, and it may also cause power and water outages.

Only five hurricanes have passed within 75 miles of New York City since 1851 — Hurricane Gloria was the most recent 26 years ago, according to Weather.com.

Weston's Lt. Richard Doyle, Easton's Emergency Management Director, said the town is monitoring the storm and receiving daily updates from the state. A decision will be made Friday afternoon as to how the police department will prepare for the storm and will work with public works, emergency medical services, the fire department and the selectman's office to see what resources will be on standby.

Doyle offered the following tips to prepare for the storm:

• Make sure those who need medication have enough to get through three to seven days.

• If there is a generator in the home, make sure it is in working condition.

• Have first aid kits, flashlights and batteries in an easily accessed area.

• Have one gallon of water for each person for every day to last between three and seven days. Many of Easton's homes rely on well water and won't have running water if there is a power outage. Maintain essential needs by prefilling sinks and tubs with water. Set your refrigerator/freezer on its coldest setting and get cash, fill gas tanks and charge cell phones.

Other tips to prepare for the storm are to:

• Hold a family meeting to discuss the hazards of hurricanes and determine the need to evacuate or relocate. Homes close to the water may need to be prepared to relocate before a storm’s arrival.

• Review insurance policies and secure important papers and valuables.

• Check the roof, windows, doors and landscaping and take precautions, such as removing weak branches from trees; checking shingles, tiles panels and gutters and securing when necessary; closing all windows; and securely fastening shutters.

• Put together pet care items. Accommodate all pets if you must evacuate. Space will be limited in pet-sheltering facilities.

• Choose a safe room — an interior room with no windows — if you need immediate protection.

• Let family, friends and caregivers know about your plans and assemble a list of important phone numbers and contacts.

The senior center supplied emergency boxes to all residents over 60 with the assistance of a grant from the Easton Lions Club. Buckley urges people to remove and replace any dated food or batteries in the box. In the event of bad weather, the senior center may cancel normal transportation but will have the van standing ready if someone needs help.

If the storm hits, Doyle urges Easton residents to stay indoors and let the state and town crews clear the roads. Doyle said during the nor'easter in 2008, routes 58 and 136 were flooded in Easton and many trees were down.

"It's just like a terrible snowstorm. If you don't have to go out, don't go out," said Doyle.

Call 911 only for an emergency. For questions regarding power outages, call Connecticut Light & Power at 860-947-2000.

How are you preparing for the impending storm? Comment below or email shenry@thedailyeaston.com.

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