Emergency preparations for Hurricane Joaquin slowed Friday, after the storm’s path veered away from Connecticut’s shores.
Hurricane Joaquin — a Category 4 storm — hit the Bahamas Thursday with hurricane-force winds, storm-surge flooding and torrential rain. The National Weather Service originally predicted the hurricane would make its way to the East Coast as a tropical storm after first ravaging North Carolina. But weather predictions on Friday suggested the storm will move out to sea and spare the East Coast.
City and University officials said preparations have been in place since last week and will continue, albeit with a reduced intensity.
“Although [the storm’s] potential impact on Connecticut is still developing as forecasts adjust, we need to be prepared because these types of storms can oftentimes be unpredictable,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said in a Wednesday press release.
Malloy said citizens can prepare for the storm by stocking up on food and water supplies, keeping flashlights and first-aid kits available and ensuring they have a radio or cell phone that can be charged without electricity so they can keep abreast of weather updates even if there are power outages.
Citywide storm management strategies were also put in place last week.
The Department of Public Works was made responsible for ensuring leaves blown from trees by storm winds do not block storm drains. The Department of Parks did a walkthrough of the city last week to check for dead tree branches that could get blown by storm winds and become dangerous. Anti-flood barriers were placed in low-lying areas that are frequently flooded, primarily roads, Deputy Director of Operations for New Haven’s Emergency Operations Center Rick Fontana said.
“We have put all the steps in place and we’ll continue to maintain our situational awareness,” Fontana said.
The University has also been bracing for the storm. University Director of Emergency Management Maria Bouffard said Yale’s Emergency Operations team — which includes representatives from organizations such as Yale Facilities, Dining and Police — began preparations Thursday.
Bouffard said that even though Yale cannot know for sure if the hurricane will impact New Haven, emergency planning takes time and so began as quickly as possible.
“If the hurricane comes, how long can we ask students to stay in their colleges or in their dorms, and how long do we have to prepare them for that?” Bouffard said. “How long will it take for the delivery of food, and once it gets in we still have to package it. We take all of those things into consideration when making any preparation.”
The University has also prepared to move garbage cans indoors, check roofs for leaks and do a general walkthrough of the campus to ensure all necessary safety measures are in place.
The last hurricane to affect Connecticut was Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.