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Here comes Irene

Published August 26. 2011 05:02PM

Hurricane Irene appears to be on her way to our area.

The latest postings by the National Hurricane Center points to a direct hit in the Chesapeake Bay area at about 2 a.m. Sunday.

Mark Nalesnik, director of the Carbon County Emergency Management Agency, said there are conference calls with state and federal officials scheduled later today.

The latest information he has indicates we could have winds of 40-60 miles per hour with several inches of rain.

Of the wind, he said the area is used to dealing with these conditions.

"Anything over 60 miles per hour concerns me," he said.

The National Weather Service stated this morning, "Everyone should be preparing for this large storm as now is the time. Have a plan in place. Listen to local officials regarding any evacuations and keep updated on the weather forecasts."

The Weather Service added that the exact track of the hurricane still isn't defined this morning. There is potential it could weave a little west from the present track, which would bring heavier rains and even the threat of tornadoes. On the other hand, a weave to the east of the present track could mean winds would be less than 60 miles per hour, although heavy rain is still likely.

Several local fire departments, including Summit Hill, met last night for training sessions to discuss handling the storm if Irene does cause problems.

Carbon County Commissioner Wayne Nothstein, who is active in the Lehighton Fire Department where he is a former fire chief, said his biggest concern is localized flooding.

Nothstein said it's rare we have earthquakes or hurricanes but it does happen. He stressed emergency preparedness.

He suggested that if you have a police scanner, listen to it to keep posted on developments. He said police and fire calls can be monitored.

"Now is the time to check your sump pumps, make sure your drains are open, etc., storm drains too because if not it could create problems," he added.

He also stressed that with the possibility of high winds, make sure porch furniture is secure and that loose items can't become missiles propelled by the wind.

Officials urge that you bring your pets indoors. Yards often become flooded and could be tragic to animals forced to stay outdoors.

Nalesnik said he has activated the county Emergency Operational Center.

He said he has contacted all 23 municipalities in the county and has instructed them to activate their EOC. Every town is required to have an EOC and an emergency management coordinator, said Nalesnik.

Coaldale Police Chief Tim Delaney said that the borough plans to shut down East Phillips Street, from East Street to Lansford's Bertsch Street, on Saturday evening. The stretch is known locally as the "pool road." The road will most likely stay closed all day Sunday.

"If we catch anybody driving on the sidewalk, they will be arrested," Delaney said.

Closing the road, which typically floods, will save police and firefighters time as they deal with other flooding problems expected to stem from Hurricane Irene.

Irene is expected to be through the area by Sunday night, with additional rain projected through next Wednesday.

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