Fitzgerald Declares Disaster Emergency in Advance of Hurricane Sandy

PITTSBURGH – Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald today declared a countywide disaster emergency to enable county and municipal governments to respond effectively to the impact of Hurricane Sandy.

The storm is still forecasted to impact our area, and watches for flooding, high wind and snow are now in effect. The time frame for any significant weather should be late today through Thursday, with the heaviest rainfall and strongest winds expected tonight through much of the day Tuesday. Threats include flooding, with small creeks, streams and areas of poor drainage causing issues earlier this week, followed by possible river flooding later in the week. Winds will be sustained at 25-35 mph with gusts as high as 60 mph, which will likely cause damage as well. Power outages are also anticipated and could last for several days.

The declaration authorizes county agencies to use all available resources and personnel as necessary to deal with the magnitude and severity of this emergency situation. Bid and contract procedures, as well as other formalities normally prescribed by law, are waived for the duration of the declaration.

Fitzgerald issued the disaster declaration based on the recommendation of Allegheny County Emergency Services Chief Alvin Henderson and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, as well as forecasts from the National Weather Service.

Staff at the county’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has been monitoring storm conditions to anticipate challenges and impacts, and they will be assessing conditions and coordinating any response necessary to support local officials in affected areas. The EOC remains in communication with PEMA, which is coordinating multiple state agencies in response.

County Executive Fitzgerald urges residents to be prepared for the storm, whether it be staying indoors for the duration or evacuating if it is recommended or ordered by local authorities.

“Residents should have enough provisions to last at least 72 hours because help from emergency responders may not be immediately available when severe weather strikes,” said Fitzgerald.

Chief Henderson adds that personal preparedness is just as important as professional response in emergency situations. For information on how to make a disaster supply kit and how to prepare for all kinds of disasters, visit the Preparedness Links page.

“At a minimum, residents should have the following on hand: flashlights and extra batteries; portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries; first aid kit and manual; emergency food and water; non-electric can opener; essential medicines/prescriptions; cash, credit cards and important legal documents; and sturdy shoes,” added Henderson.

Residents should report power outages directly to their power companies. Non-emergency calls and questions should be directed to local municipal emergency management offices. In the event of an emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately. When calling 9-1-1 to report an emergency, it is critical for callers to stay on the line until the operator answers.

County Executive Fitzgerald will hold a media briefing this afternoon with emergency services, public safety, public health and human services officials. Residents should monitor local news and weather forecasts and be prepared to take action should flooding or other weather watches or warnings be issued.

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