With Hurricane Sandy pounding her way up the Eastern Coast of the country, local officials and emergency response groups have been hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.
In East Liverpool, Service-Safety Director Ryan Estell said it appears the storm may hit hardest north of this area, but, nonetheless, city street crews have been put on notice. "They're on standby to cut up any (fallen) trees as quickly as possible," Estell said of city crews.
As of Monday afternoon, the "more notorious" storm sewers had been checked, and Estell said, "They're still flowing as well as they can," but he warned that, high winds and the amount of leaves coming down could lead to some drains becoming clogged.
Two pedestrians struggle to make it home from the Newell Dollar General in Monday’s steady rain. Stormy weather connected to Hurricane Sandy is predicted for the remainder of today, including the possibility high winds and heavy rains. The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning for the tri-state area through noon today and a flood watch through this evening. (Photo by Stephen Huba)
At the fire department, Chief Bill Jones said firefighters were "making sure all the chainsaws are running and that they have fuel," and a member of the St. Clair Township fire departments said that is what their firefighters had been doing, as well as prepping generators.
The East Liverpool Salvation Army was taking a wait-and-see position as of Monday afternoon, according to office administrator Megan Bennett.
"We're kind of waiting to see what happens," she said, adding that no representatives of the local corp has been sent to the storm-threatened area at this time.
Hancock County awaits storm
Communities in Hancock County were in a holding pattern Monday, awaiting what Hurricane Sandy would bring their way.
"We're checking all the storm sewers, making sure nothing is plugged by leaves, and waiting to see what happens," said New Cumberland Mayor Richard Blackwell.
The Hancock County Office of Emergency Management went on 24-hour alert on Monday in response to the threats from Hurricane Sandy, said Director John Paul Jones.
"We'll have staff here at the emergency operations center 24 hours a day as a resource to first-responders," Jones said. "That way, if something happens, we'll be that much further ahead. It's just a precautionary thing that we're doing."
Sheriff Mike White said his department is prepared for heavy rains and wind gusts of up to 60 mph. "Everything's up in the air," he said.
By Stephen Huba/Review Staff Writer
She said the local site near the Kent State campus could serve as a temporary emergency shelter if necessary, although it is not equipped with sleeping quarters.
The food pantry will remain open at the Salvation Army as usual, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, Bennett stressed.
In Salineville, Mayor Mary Smith possibly due to her Emergency Management Agency background took a proactive stance in response to the storm threat, quickly posting a list of emergency instructions and supplies on the door of Village Hall.
Copies of the list are also available inside Village Hall and at the police and fire departments.
She also instructed street employee Ralph Ross to check and make sure the sewage plant and drains were prepared for the expected onslaught of rain, while the police department will be adjusting its hours as needed to try and have officers available during the storm.
The fire department has prepared its generator and equipment and checked the emergency water supply, according to Smith, who said the fire station is adequately equipped with refrigerators, stoves and restrooms in the event it is needed as a care center.
"Officials, fire and police departments will be working diligently to ensure the safety of all residents and businesses. All departments will continue to monitor and respond throughout the event," Smith assured the community.
Those who might have special needs, such as the use of oxygen, are encouraged to contact the fire department if an electrical outage occurs, with Smith saying the department will address their needs, whether that means transportation to the fire station, another home or facility.
Those who need assistance or have questions can call Village Hall at 330-679-0289 and leave a message if no one answers. The answering machine will be monitored.
In an emergency, Smith advised residents to call police at 330-679-2322 and fire at 330-679-2321.
While officials and other adults have been most concerned about the potential loss of electricity due to high winds or flooded basements due to rain, area children may be wondering about the most important issue of the day: Halloween.
In East Liverpool, St. Clair and Liverpool townships, trick or treat hours have been postponed from Wednesday until 6-7:30 p.m. Saturday.
In Salineville, trick or treat was also rescheduled to 6-8 p.m. Saturday, following the Halloween parade that will now start at 5:30 that day.