Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, said Thursday that public safety officials are tracking the path of Hurricane Joaquin, which is churning in the Atlantic and threatening the United States.
"We've activated Emergency Management; we're watching it very closely," Shumlin told necn. "No one really knows at this point where the storm's going to go."
Vermont was hit very hard by Tropical Storm Irene more than four years ago. That storm system made landfall as a hurricane in North Carolina in late August of 2011, then lost strength. Still, it became Vermont's costliest natural disaster in modern times and heightened awareness of storm forecasts, like that of Joaquin.
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"We're hoping that Vermont's paid its dues," Shumlin said. "We've had our share of storms, but we're obviously preparing."
Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, the commander of the Vermont National Guard, said his team is in close contact with the state, and is prepared to offer support if emergency officials request assistance.
"I know the state emergency management folks are doing daily conference calls and watching the weather just like everyone else," Cray said. "Certainly, Irene plays heavily on everybody's minds. But that's the National Guard's role is to be ready if the governor needs us."
The American Red Cross chapter that serves New Hampshire and Vermont suggested people stay informed about weather conditions and prepare now. The Red Cross offered the following safety tips:
- Listen to local weather advisories and stay informed about the storm.
- Build an emergency kit or update an existing one. Information about what to include is available here.
- Plan now for what members of the household will do in an emergency. Include ways to contact one another and two places to meet - one near the home and one outside the neighborhood. Full details here.
- Fill your vehicle's gas tank and get some extra cash.
- If the neighborhood is prone to flooding, prepare to evacuate quickly if necessary.
- If ordered to evacuate, obey the order, avoiding flooded roads and washed out bridges.
- If flooding threatens, head for higher ground and stay there.
- Turn around, don't drown. If someone comes upon water above their ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. If a roadway is flooded, turn the vehicle around and go another way.
- If caught on a flooded road and the waters are rising rapidly, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
- Be especially cautious at night when it's harder to see flood danger.
"The Red Cross is getting ready in states all along the East Coast, calling volunteers and getting supplies, vehicles, and relief equipment ready," Maria Devlin, the CEO of the American Red Cross in New Hampshire and Vermont, said in a news release. "Residents should take this time to get ready too."