Supervisor Scott Russell announced on Friday afternoon that Southold will be in a state of emergency effective 7:00 p.m. on Saturday as it prepares for Hurricane Irene. The Village of Greenport announced a state of emergency starting at the same time, and Shelter Island announced a state of emergency effective as of 4 p.m. on Saturday.
According to New York State executive law, an emergency declaration allows town leaders to declare such measures for their respective municipalities such as a curfew, evacuation zones, emergency shelters, and opening and closing of roads to the public, among others.
No mandatory evacuations have been planned at this point.
On Friday afternoon, Russell said he's primarily concerned about making sure residents are in a safe place once Irene hits.
"We hope people have a good knowledge of their property and the character of their property and urge them not to wait until later to make alternative plans," he said.
In a statement issued early Friday afternoon, Russell reminded residents, "who live in flood-prone areas should make a decision quickly to seek shelter. The state of emergency will prohibit all unnecessary vehicles from roads for the duration of the event."
The town will operate the following schools as pet-friendly shelters: Fisher's Island School, Oysterponds Elementary School, Greenport High School, Southold High School, Cutchogue East Elementary School, and Mattituck-Cutchogue High School.
Individuals seeking shelter along with pets are reminded that pets must be brought in crates or cages.
Russell said he will be in an emergency command center at the police station starting mid-Saturday afternoon, and would be taking advice from Police Chief Martin Flatley and area fire chiefs on where to send town resources. Greenport's Mayor David Nyce said he will be located at the fire department headquarters on Second Street.
Flatley said the police station had been receiving calls throughout the day to ensure that emergency shelters would be open. While Flatley noted that projected hurricanes in the past had dipped off the coast and missed the area, he said the department is "taking the right steps at this point. We've done as much as we can."
On Shelter Island, an emergency shelter will be set up at the senior center on South Ferry Road.
The National Weather Service offered this forecast as of 5 p.m. on Friday:"The core of the hurricane will approach the coast of North Caroline tonight and pass near or over the North Carolina coast on Saturday. The Hurricane is forecast to move near or over the Mid-Atlantic coast Saturday night and move over southern New England on Sunday."
The National Weather Service put Long Island on a hurricane watch at 11 a.m. on Friday. Irene is currently a category 2 hurricane, and according to models issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has a 20 percent chance of bringing hurricane-force winds to Long Island. It also reports an 80 percent chance of tropical storm-force winds.