The Whitman Fire Department is recommending that residents take the necessary safety precautions to prepare themselves for potentially serious storm impacts as Tropical Storm Elsa is forecast to impact New England late tonight into Friday.
Tropical Storm Elsa is expected to pass near/over southeast New England on Friday as a tropical storm. A Tropical Storm Warning is currently in effect for Plymouth County, indicating that tropical storm-force winds are expected within this area during the next 36 hours. Damaging winds and power outages are possible where Tropical Storm Warnings are issued. The peak wind forecast for Whitman is 10-20 mph with gusts up to 50 mph.
A Flash Flood Watch is also currently in effect across much of southeast New England due to the potential for flash flooding caused by heavy rainfall. Whitman and other parts of Plymouth County is expecting upward of 2 inches of rain.
Residents are reminded that the forecast can change quickly and at any point and they should monitor the local forecast throughout the day. Stay informed by receiving alerts, warnings, and public safety information before, during and after emergencies.
The Whitman Fire Department suggest that all residents follow tips provided by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) in the event of flooding:
- Don’t attempt to drive through large puddles or on flooded roads, which could threaten your safety. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and 2 feet of water can sweep your vehicle away.
- If there is a chance of flash flooding, move immediately to higher ground. Flash floods are the number one cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S.
- If floodwaters rise around your car and the water is not moving, abandon the car and move to higher ground. Do not leave the car and enter moving water.
- Avoid camping or parking along streams, rivers and creeks during heavy rainfall. These areas can flood quickly and with little warning.
MEMA recommends purchasing a generator to maintain electricity despite an outage. Generators should always be kept outside since they emit deadly carbon monoxide fumes that can quickly accumulate if indoors.
Additional safety precautions residents should follow include:
- Not going out during a hurricane or tropical storm, if possible.
- Checking flashlights and portable radios to confirm they’re working.
- Fully charging your cell phone, laptop and any other devices before the storm.
- If you own a car, making sure its gas tank is at least half full in the event you need to travel. Purchase a car phone charger so that you can charge your device if you lose power at your home.
- Ensuring that you have an emergency kit that has basic medicine and bandages.
- Include disinfectants, hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies that you may need in an emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Setting your refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings (remember to reset them back to normal once power is restored). During an outage, minimize the number of times you open the refrigerator or freezer door.
- Preparing your home by securing or bringing in outdoor objects (patio furniture, children’s toys, trash cans, etc.) that could be swept away or damaged during strong winds or flooding.
- Being prepared by packing a bag with important items in case you need to evacuate. Don’t forget to include needed medications and any valuable personal belongings.
- Being a good neighbor. Check on family, friends, and neighbors, especially the elderly, those who live alone, those with medical conditions and those who may need additional assistance.
After a storm passes through the area, residents should remain cautious. Heavy rain and strong winds can cause a multitude of problems like power outages, fallen debris and floods that often block roads and emergency vehicles, prolonging damage.
- Call 9-1-1 to report emergencies, including downed power lines and gas leaks.
- Stay away from downed utility wires. Always assume a downed power line is live.
- If your power is out, follow MEMA’s power outage safety tips. Report power outages to your utility company. Do not call 9-1-1 to report an outage or to ask about power restoration.