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Westport Hopes for Best But Plans for Worst

WESTPORT, Conn. – Westport First Selectman Gordon Joseloff said the town is gearing up for a likely hit from Hurricane Irene.

If forecasts are correct, Joseloff said this could be one of the worst storms the town has experienced because heavy rains, flooding and prolonged power outages are likely.

"We are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst," Joseloff said in a statement Thursday evening. "It is of utmost importance that Westport residents pay very close attention to the forecasts and announcements that will be coming from our emergency management team."

The storm is predicted to hit the area by Sunday. Residents who live in flood-prone areas are urged to evacuate their homes before of the storm hits. They are also urged to prepare for long-term power outages and to stock up on essentials, such as food, water and batteries.

On Thursday, Joseloff said he was on several conference calls with state emergency management and National Weather Service officials. He also met with the town's emergency management team and it was decided the town will take the following actions:

? The Emergency Operations Center, at 515 Post Road E., will open mid-day Saturday.

? Long Lots Elementary School, at 13 Hyde Lane, will open as an emergency evacuation center at 6 p.m. Saturday. Pets will be accepted, but residents must bring their own pet food and cages.

? Sandbags and sand available will be available from the Public Works Department at its Sherwood Island Connector headquarters.

? The town website will be updated with the latest information about hurricane preparations. The town will also use the Staples High School radio station, WWPT-FM 90.3, to broadcast emergency announcements. Announcements will also go out via the CodeRED emergency telephone notification system and via Twitter .

? Beaches and marinas will be closed as the storm approaches. No swimming in the riptides or surfing the waves will be permitted.

? The town is working with the state to identify specified debris management areas where debris from the storm will be taken.

Joseloff said an evacuation order will likely be issued for low-lying areas. Residents who decide to "ride out" the storm will do so at their own peril, he said, because emergency services will not respond to last-minute evacuation requests as waters rise.

"Westporters should not underestimate the power of this storm and the devastation that could result. We will be doing all that we can to minimize damage and prevent loss of life," Joseloff said. "But it is up to each individual resident to help us do that by taking every precaution in advance that you can — including leaving town for safer areas."

How are you preparing for the storm?

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