CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Many of us here in western Massachusetts rarely, if ever, think about hurricanes. Our inland location prevents us from having to deal with storm surge and some of the strongest winds of the few storms that do make their way up to New England. However, western Massachusetts is not immune from the dangers that hurricanes and tropical storms can bring.
In August 2011, many areas of western Massachusetts experienced torrential flooding due to Tropical Storm Irene. Rising waters washed out portions of Route 2 and several other roads, particularly in Franklin and Berkshire Counties. Neighboring Vermont- the only New England state without a coastline- was particularly hard-hit by Irene, and it has taken years to repair all the damage there.
With the dangers of hurricanes and tropical storms in mind, Governor Charlie Baker has declared this week to be Hurricane Preparedness Week in Massachusetts.
“It’s never too early to start preparing yourself, family, home, and business for a tropical storm or hurricane,” Baker said. “As we enter into hurricane season, major storms can occur at any time, and making emergency and evacuation plans now can minimize damage and the impact on public safety.”
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency is urging state residents to make the following plans, in the event of a hurricane or tropical storm:
- A family communication plan– Know how you will stay in touch in the event of an emergency.
- An evacuation plan – How will you get out of your house in an emergency, and where will you go? What will you bring with you? How will you get there? What will you do with your pets?
- A shelter-in-place plan – Know what you will do in the event you are stuck inside your home. Have a stockpile of food and other items you will need to stay comfortable at home. Be prepared to shelter-in-place for at least 72 hours.
Hurricane season began on June 1, and runs through November 30. NOAA’s outlook for the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season predicts an above-normal number of storms this season.