Preparations for Hurricane Sandy’s reach into Saratoga are well underway around the area.
Ed Tremblay is the deputy director of emergency services for Saratoga County. He says their role right now is one of coordination. “We’re in contact with towns and municipalities to see what they need.” For instance, “If they need a shelter set up, we could take care of that. We can coordinate with the county DPW (department of public works).”
Tremblay says the county also has a small supply of sandbags that could be used for what he calls facility support – helping to protect water treatment plants or sewage facilities, for instance, from rising water levels.
The county also serves as a clearing house of sorts for equipment loans. If one municipality is looking for a tractor, for instance, the county can help them find it.
Exactly what Sandy will bring to the area is still not clear. Tremblay says right now forecasters are primarily concerned mostly about wind. When the remnants of Sandy reach Saratoga, sustained winds of 30-40 miles an hour are currently expected, although that prediction could change. In some areas gusts could reach as high as 75 miles an hour, depending on the elevation, with higher elevations getting the greater wind gusts.
Because the ground is already saturated from recent rains, rain could still be a problem as well, but right now less than two inches of rainfall is expected.
The state meanwhile has activated its mutual aid plan. Normally counties are not allowed to provide mutual aid – that means assistance with fire trucks or ambulances, for instance – to other counties that do not touch their borders. So Saratoga County could provide mutual aid to Washington or Warren counties, but not to Erie County in western New York. The idea is to not tie up needed emergency equipment with unnecessary travel.
When the state activates its mutual aid plan though, those restrictions are dropped. Tremblay says requests for assistance then go through the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Albany. Officials there make the call on what assistance can be provided, and where. “If I called for something we needed,” says Tremblay, such as a pumper truck or an ambulance, “they would evaluate where the needs are and help us find that equipment.”
Tremblay says the state rarely has a need to activate the mutual aid plan other than for weather events such as this one.
Gov. Cuomo has also declared a state of emergency. According to the governor’s office, the declaration has been made to “help mobilize resources to local governments and rapid response efforts.”
The White House has also issued an emergency declaration for the state of New York. Under that declaration federal emergency aid is being made available to state officials for use in New York. The declaration was announced Sunday evening, but actually took effect on Saturday.
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