Newton canceled school for Monday and announced a one-day delay in trash collection as Hurricane Sandy bore down on the region. City Hall will also be closed Monday for non-essential personnel.
As the hurricane approached, city officials worked throughout the day Sunday to prepare for potential power outages, street closures, and delays in services, according to a statement from the mayor's office Sunday afternoon.
"Our number one priority is maintaining public safety," Mayor Setti Warren said. "We strongly encourage all residents to take precautions over the next few days to ensure their own safety, and the safety of their family, friends and neighbors. All essential departments will be working around the clock to ensure an efficient response to the storm."
Trash, recycling and yard waste collection will be delayed one day across the city this week. Residents are advised not to place their barrels curbside this evening. In addition, City Hall and all other municipal buildings will be closed Monday except for essential/public safety personnel.
Additional tips and information can be found by visiting www.newtonma.gov, where regular updates will be posted.
Interim police chief Howard Mintz said Friday that the city is preparing for the worst case scenario and hoping for the best. He said that the police on Monday will be more fully staffed, particularly with more dispatchers to handle calls, and will have more vehicles available to respond to emergencies. He said the fire department will have extra ambulances and rescue units available as well.
A press release from the city lists several things residents should be aware of as the storm approaches:
- The city will monitor the storm throughout the weekend, and take preemptive measures to any issues that arise.
- Residents who have not already done so should sign up for our Emergency Call list by visiting www.newtonma.gov and clicking on the “Sign up for City Alerts” icon.
- The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) has provided several tips for residents to prepare themselves for the hurricane. They include information on protecting your home, what items to stockpile, and maintaining communication in the event of a power outage. The items and many other useful tips can be found at http://www.mass.gov/eopss/agencies/mema/.
- The City of Newton website will be updates as developments occur. Please check www.newtonma.gov for news and updates.
- Residents should bring lawn furniture and other items that could potentially be blown in the wind indoors.
- During regular business hours, residents can contact the City of Newton at 617-796-1000. Our combined Police/Fire Dispatch may be reached 24/7 at 617-796-2100. Emergencies should be reported to 911.
- Power outages should be reported to NStar by calling 800-592-2000.
- Residents are strongly encouraged to ensure that catch basins on their street are clear of leaves and debris.
- Stay away from any downed wires, and do not touch any trees that downed wires are touching.
- If there is significant water in your basement, do not touch it. Contact the Fire Department immediately.
Mintz emphasized that residents need to have a plan, particularly in case an evacuation is necessary. While the city has predetermined shelters that it will open if a large-scale evacuation is needed, Mintz said people should look into going to a friend's or relative's home if the city decides a smaller evacuation is needed. Stocking up on food and water is important as well, he said.
"People need to take that responsibility," Mintz said, adding that people should also have a plan for their pets. He suggested looking into bringing pets to a veterinarian or kennel in another town if they cannot be taken with you.
Laura Franzini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.