WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - The menace of Hurricane Irene sent White Plains firefighters back into the nooks of the Mamaroneck Avenue headquarters, where Hiram Casillas double checked that all equipment was working properly and the route to the water pumps was clear.
"We usually double check all our equipment a day or two before stuff like this," said Casillas, who has been a White Plains firefighter for 23 years.
Preparing the house's 13 fire pumps was one of Casillas' bigger priorities.
"We'll be pumping out water. If it's a big area we'll use the big guys. If it's a smaller area we have four-gallon-per-minute pumps," said Casillas. "If it's really bad, we'll go on a list of first-call, first-serve -- if all of our pumps are being used."
As of Friday morning, Casillas said there were no plans to have extra firefighters or emergency responders on duty. However, he said Fire Chief James Bradley might decide to add more public safety officers as more details about the weather's severity emerge.
According to the National Weather Service, White Plains can expect showers to start after noon Saturday with temperatures reaching 79 degrees. Tropical storm conditions may bring three to four inches of rain and wind traveling at up to 55 mph Saturday night. The storm may escalate into a hurricane Sunday morning with winds threatening to accelerate to 85 mph and dump up to four inches of rain. The weather is expected to grow tame overnight, and by Monday, White Plains can expect sunshine and temperatures as high as 80 degrees.
Public Safety Commissioner David Chong advised residents not to wait until the last minute to begin preparing for Hurricane Irene. He suggested using a gym bag or plastic bag to prepare an emergency kit containing: a gallon of water for each person in your home, nonperishable food items that can be easily opened, a non-electric can opener, scissors, at least one flashlight with extra batteries, dry clothes for each person in your home. a standard first aid kit, any prescription medicines, an AM/FM radio with extra batteries and important paperwork such as insurance policies and identification forms sealed in a waterproof bag.
Above all, Chong said families should formulate a plan about where to meet, when to call, and how to check up on each other, especially seniors, should disaster strike.
Residents should also charge cell phones, fill up their cars' gas tanks and plan to stay inside as the storm approaches.
How easily does your neighborhood flood? How much water do you think will get into your home over the weekend? We've heard the Eastview Middle School is the lowest point in White Plains, but are there other areas that are also very low? Email thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll include your responses in future coverage.
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