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The Times
  • Residents, officials braced for storm

  • Bottled water was disappearing from store shelves and size D batteries seemed nowhere to be found Monday as local residents prepared for Hurricane Sandy.

    At Lowe’s on Route 5 in Herkimer, Jesse Pike, a manager, reported some 27 generators arrived Monday morning and were sold quickly, another sign local residents were taking seriously the warnings about the approaching storm.

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  • Bottled water was disappearing from store shelves and size D batteries seemed nowhere to be found Monday as local residents prepared for Hurricane Sandy.
    At Lowe’s on Route 5 in Herkimer, Jesse Pike, a manager, reported some 27 generators arrived Monday morning and were sold quickly, another sign local residents were taking seriously the warnings about the approaching storm.
    Pike said customers who came into the store over the last couple of days were consistently looking for batteries, flashlights, portable heating devices and other storm-related supplies and equipment.
    A steady stream of customers was also reported at Collis Hardware in Herkimer.
    Vicki Littke, of Papa Bear gifts and Groceries, in Frankfort, was at Chanatry’s in Utica on Monday stocking up on water. “We want to make sure we have enough water for our customers if they need it,” she said, adding many of her customers have wells and if the power goes out, they will be without water. “We’re on a well too, so if we lose power we can’t make coffee and things like that.”
    Fastrac in Herkimer had its gas tanks refilled three times Sunday as area motorists came in a steady stream to fill their vehicles.
    Local residents and homeowners weren’t the only ones getting ready for the storm.
    “We’ve been preparing since last week,” said Robert Vandawalker, emergency management services coordinator for Herkimer County. “We’ve activated our emergency operations center. That’s to better handle our resources if needed.”
    He said resources are in place, including plans to provide emergency shelters if needed.
    The 911 center was prepared with extra staffing.
    “Right now it’s a waiting game,” Vandawalker said when contacted early Monday afternoon. “Right now we’re looking at basically a wind event.” He noted flooding was not expected to be a problem with maybe up to two inches of rain forecast.
    If shelters are needed in the Mohawk Valley due to flooding or power outages, the Mohawk Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross has shelters on standby for residents of Oneida, Herkimer and Otsego counties, according to a Red Cross statement released Monday afternoon.
    “The Mohawk Valley Chapter is also mobilizing volunteers, relief supplies and disaster vehicles, and working with county emergency management officials who are aware that Red Cross resources are available,” the statement said.
    Various municipalities were also taking steps in advance of the storm.
    In Ilion, Mayor John Stephens called a meeting to discuss aspects of the village’s emergency preparedness and response. All departments were present along with Ilion Central School Superintendent Cosmo Tangorra, Jr. and American Red Cross Emergency Operations Manager Kelly Brown. After the meeting, the mayor announced the following steps were being taken:
    Page 2 of 2 - • Stephens asked all vehicles be removed from village streets until further notice.
    • The DPW has a pile of sand and bags for residents to use at the former Woods tire property on West Main Street.
    • Residents were reminded if a tree or parts of a tree come down in their yard and wires are involved, they should not attempt to move them. Crews will respond as soon as possible. Any downed trees should be reported to the fire department.
    Mohawk Police Chief Joseph Malone announced the village had initiated a parking ban effective 6 p.m. Monday and continuing until further notice. He said vehicles would be towed and ticketed, if necessary.
    “This ban is being put in place to aid in the village’s measures to keep the village safe and functioning and to allow our workers to cope with any problems related to the storm,” Malone said in the statement.
    A parking ban was also issued for the village of Herkimer, effective Monday at 6 p.m. and continuing until further notice.
    Montgomery County declared a state of emergency and banned unnecessary travel after 5 p.m. Monday. “Travel may become treacherous throughout the county and conditions may worsen,” the statement read.
    The city of Utica also banned unnecessary travel.
    Schools and colleges were also taking the storm seriously.
    Owen D. Young Central School dismissed all students at 12:30 p.m. Monday, while in Richfield Springs, school closed at 11:30 p.m. Dolgeville Central School also dismissed students early Monday.
    Other local schools, including Ilion and Frankfort-Schuyler, canceled all after-school activities due to the approaching storm.
    The Little Falls City School District issued a statement asking residents not call the school to find out if school is in session because it ties up the phone lines that would be needed for emergency closings. School officials advised parents and students that information about closings would be announced through area media outlets and posted at the school website, www.lfcsd.org.
    Herkimer County Community College canceled classes and activities as of 3:30 p.m. Monday. Food service was to remain open until 8 p.m. and the last run of the shuttle bus was to be at 5 p.m.
    Mohawk Valley Community College’s Utica and Rome campuses closed at 4 p.m. Monday. Residential students were advised to stay in their residence halls and avoid going outdoors or traveling city streets after 4 p.m. The Jorgensen Center was being converted for use as a community storm shelter by the Red Cross.

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