First Responders Gearing Up for Impact and Aftermath in MA - NECN

First Responders Gearing Up for Impact and Aftermath in MA



    (NECN: Eileen Curran, MA) - Two days before the brunt of Hurricane Irene is expected to hit the state, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has declared a state of emergency.

    "We have a very clear sense as of right now what is coming and we are ready for it," said Patrick at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency's bunker in Framingham ,MA Friday afternoon.

    The MEMA bunker has been up and running during the day since Tuesday, but will start round the clock on Saturday.

    Representatives of more than 30 state agencies are on hand to plan and coordinate the emergency response.

    The state has requested a pre-landing federal disaster area declaration from President Obama to free up federal funds and resources to deal with Irene.  Some are already in place.

    "We have a group from FEMA, a special team that came in yesterday that will be able to supplement with national assets as this thing moves forward," said MEMA spokesperson Peter Judge.

    At the American Red Cross office in Cambridge, MA workers are gearing up for another disaster response. Since this spring, the Red Cross has helped with more than 40 disasters in 31 states. The work here has already begun.

    "We currently have over 200 feeding vehicles we’ve already pre-positioned," said Red Cross spokesperson Donna Morrissey. "We are working with local emergency management officials to identify shelter locations."

    Irene is expected to bring high winds to the eastern part of the state and heavy rain to the western part, which is a big concern for officials.

    "The difference with this storm is the track suggests the whole of commonwealth will be affected," said Gov Patrick.  "It's also concerning to me that the point of impact is likely to be in the Springfield area...right through the path of the tornado from June 1st."

    Officials encourage people to put together an emergency kit with things like water, flashlights and batteries. Being prepared, they say is key.

    "As we all know, Mother Nature is unpredictable and the forecast may change for the better or the worse," said Patrick.

    So far the state has not ordered any mandatory evacuations. Officials do not expect Logan Airport to close, but they do expect delays.  The MBTA is clearing tracks of any debris, and so far has not issued any interruption of service.