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North Shore communities prepare to take a hit from Hurricane Sandy

Posted by Ryan Mooney  October 26, 2012 11:28 AM

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With decent weather predicted for the early weekend, Salem Harbormaster Bill McHugh has one piece of advice for those trying to squeeze in one last outing on the boat: Don't give in to the temptation.

"We're urging mariners to take their boats out, take early action, especially where the weather's going to be nice over the weekend," McHugh said. "We're urging mariners to take early action and get their boats to safe harbor, or out of the water. Preferably out of the water.

"We're all going to have to watch the weather and prepare for the worst-case scenario. Hopefully we'll be rewarded if we prepare properly."

The only floats left around Salem are the one's used for public access so that people can bring their boats to land. Most of the city's floats, around Winter Island and the Kernwood area, have already been removed.

Just across the Kernwood Bridge, Beverly Harbormaster Daniel McPherson had to cut a phone interview short so that he could head out and continue getting ready, his strategy the same as the one being employed in Salem.

"We're just securing [city property] as best we can, trying to keep everything safe," McPherson said.

He also strongly suggests that those with vessels in the water to remove them.

"It's up to the individuals to do what they want, but we're certain encouraging people," McPherson said. "Especially that it's the end of the season, there's no sense in pushing it any further."

There is no way to predict how Sandy will compare with Hurricane Bob, which did a good amount of its $39 million worth of damage in 1991 on the South Shore, or Hurricane Irene last year, which belted Massachusetts with heavy rains, flooding and major power outages, but National Weather Service meteorologist Alan Dunham warns residents of the North Shore to be prepared.

"Definitely right now for folks on the North Shore, don't think 'oh we're out of the woods,'" Dunham cautioned. "You're going to see at least some impact."

It is unclear where Hurricane Sandy will hit, and where in Massachusetts its impact will be most highly concentrated. According to Dunham, the current track of the storm has it landing somewhere near the Delaware - New Jersey border, which would result in more damage to the Southeastern part of the state, but a change in direction and larger effect on the North Shore is possible.

"I would say even the North Shore is susceptible to some minor coastal flooding, and a lot of beach erosion," Dunham said. "If the storm comes closer then the probability of flooding will increase, as will the wind speeds."

Dunham recommends that residents of the area keep track of the storm, and start planning for the possibility of flooding and power outages. The advantage of having plenty of working batteries for items like smoke detectors and flashlights can not be understated.

"It's not out of the realm of possibility of this thing moving up over Long Island instead," Dunham said. "If that were the case, if that were to happen, you'd be looking at experiencing widespread power outages which would probably last quite a long time, because Connecticut's going to be losing power, Rhode Island, New York, so start putting a plan together now.

"The bottom line is don't ignore this storm."

Ryan Mooney can be reached at globe.mooney@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @mooney_ryan.

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