Hurricane Jose Moves North, Tropical Storm Watch For Shoreline

With parts of Connecticut under a tropical storm watch Monday, employees at Harry's Marine Repair spent the day making sure the boats in the Route 1 marina were secured to moorings.

Harry Ruppenicker, owner of the marina his family has run in town for 63 years, said he wanted to make sure the boats would not be affected by heavy winds from Hurricane Jose, which forecasters said could gust up to 40 miles an hour. In a press conference Monday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told boaters to secure their boats and to pay close attention to the forecast track.

"Better safe than sorry," Ruppenicker said.

The forecast Monday called for the storm to stay east of the state. It is expected to weaken to a tropical storm as it passes by on Tuesday into Wednesday morning.

“The best chance for tropical storm force winds and heavy rain will be across eastern Long Island and southeast Connecticut,” the National Weather service said in a local hurricane statement Monday.

The National Weather Service issued tropical storm watches for the shoreline of New London, Middlesex, New Haven and Fairfield counties.

Shoreline residents closest to the water in Old Saybrook, Westbrook and Clinton said they were not planning on boarding up windows or doing any of the other usual preparations they’ve taken in years past for other storms.

"It doesn't seem like Irene," said one resident on Seaside Avenue in Westbrook. He was referring to the tropical storm that hit Connecticut in 2011.

Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop said he does not anticipate a major impact from the storm but that the town is prepared. He said procedures implemented after Hurricane Sandy in 2012 have gone into effect, including continual email alerts about the pending storm that started going out to residents last week. Bishop said he and other town officials are also thinking of plans to deal with problems that could surface in the storm’s aftermath, such as power outages and how to clear beach sand thrown onto public streets.

"We don't take anything for granted," Bishop said.

J.T. Dunn, public information officer for the Old Saybrook Fire Department, said the department's main focus is alerting the public through social media that a storm is coming.

"It's at a tropical storm watch now but if it goes to a warning, we will kick things up a notch and advise people to have enough food and medicine on hand and to make sure their vehicles have a full tank of gas, just basic good-sense planning," Dunn said.

Dunn said the department's biggest concern is the potential for power outages because of the forecast for strong winds and leaves still being on trees.

"People need to fuel their cars and generators. It won't take a lot to kill the power," he said.

In case outages do occur, Eversource said in a statement that the company is prepared to respond by opening emergency operations centers in Newtown, Hartford and New London on Tuesday.

“We continue to carefully monitor Jose’s path and are ready to address impacts to the electric system,” said Peter Clarke, senior vice president of emergency preparedness. “We’re confident our ongoing technology upgrades, combined with our tried and tested emergency response plan, enables us to safely and efficiently handle issues that may arise.”

Fox 61 meteorologist Matt Scott said Jose is a close call.

“We are going to get some effects later on this week,” Scott said in a morning forecast. “But for the most part this is not … a direct hit, nor do we anticipate it changing to become one anytime soon.”

Scott said the shoreline will start seeing the rain and wind from Jose on Tuesday afternoon, mainly in southeastern Connecticut. He said there is a potential for some coastal flooding at high tide in Middlesex and New London countieshere is a potential for some coastal flooding.

Meteorologists and public officials have stressed that people should keep an eye on the storm.

The state’s Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection said Monday: “Please pay close attention to the forecast as a slight shift in Jose's track could change the impacts the storm has on the state.”

The last time a hurricane hit Connecticut was Sandy in October 2012. Sandy caused heavy damage, especially across Connecticut’s shoreline. In the time since, with the help of both state and federal grants, many shoreline towns have better prepared infrastructure should another storm of that strength hit.

Travelers, which has been busy with insurance claims from other major storms including Harvery and Irma, issued some recommendations for homeowners and businesses alike as Jose approaches:

For homeowners:

  • Prepare an emergency preparedness kit that includes items such as water and nonperishable food for everyone (including your pets) in case you lose power. Other items might include medications, flashlights, batteries and portable/car chargers for your cell phones and other electronic devices..
  • Make sure cellphones are fully charged before the storm.
  • Secure all outdoor objects or move them inside if you can. Remove AC window units.
  • Close and lock all doors and windows.
  • Fill the fuel tanks on your emergency generator.
  • Check your sump pump and the battery backup to confirm they are working properly.
  • If you have one, secure your boat or move it to a safer place.
  • If time permits, trim any tree limbs close to your home that could potentially be broken off in high winds and cause property damage.

For businesses:

  • Confirm that your employee contact lists are up to date. Stay in contact with them.
  • Locate your business continuity plan, so you’ll have the necessary contact information for suppliers and other key partners, if needed.
  • Clean out floor drains and catch basins and check sump pumps.
  • Shut down production processes safely and turn off the electricity for noncritical equipment.
  • Make sure your important records are protected — or duplicate and move them offsite to a safe area.
  • Know how to shut off utilities. It is always a good idea to know how to turn off the gas, electricity and water in your place of business.
  • If time permits, trim any tree limbs close to your property that could potentially be broken off in high winds and cause damage.
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