Jamestown prepares for Hurricane Sandy
With Hurricane Sandy expected to hit Rhode Island tomorrow, officials are warning Jamestown residents to evacuate low-lying areas and prepare for the possibility of bridge closures.
According to Buddy Croft, executive director of the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority, the Newport Bridge will close depending on the speed and direction of the wind. The Jamestown Bridge falls under the jurisdiction of the state Department of Transportation, although one span routinely closes if the other does.
“I’ve never seen one bridge close,” said Croft, “and the other stay open.”
Jamestown Town Administrator Bruce Keiser said the bridges typically close when winds reach 50 mph. “We won’t know until the storm hits,” said Keiser, who was in the office on Sunday discussing emergency-management plans.
Using the emergency-notification system, Jamestown Police Chief Ed Mello sent the following statement this afternoon:
“The state of Rhode Island has declared a state of emergency. You should expect to see sustained winds of 40 to 60 mph with wind gusts up to 70 mph. There is an expected water storm surge of more than 10 feet. The worst of the storm will be felt beginning at noon on Monday. Residents should be prepared for extended periods of time without power. Those residents in low-lying areas should be prepared for significant water surge. We are urging those in low-lying areas to evacuate their homes. The emergency shelter at Melrose Avenue School will be open at 6 p.m. tonight (Sunday, Oct. 28). If you need transportation please call 423-1212. Please be sure that you are prepared with a supply of food and water for at least 72 hours.”
The turnpike authority also announced that the E-ZPass customer service center will be closed on Monday. Weather permitting, the center will reopen Tuesday.
“Safety is always our highest priority,” said David Darlington, chairman of RITBA's board of directors. “If at any time we believe public safety is at risk, or if the bridges are at risk, we will close them to vehicular traffic and alert the public via the news media and our website.”
Darlington explained that the RITBA doesn’t prematurely shut down either of its bridges in advance of a storm.