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Fairfield Prepares For Hurricane Irene's Arrival

FAIRFIELD, Conn.—Glenn and Debra Sauer got lucky Thursday afternoon. The couple stopped by Fairfield’s The Home Depot to pick up a backup generator just in case Hurricane Irene knocks out their power this weekend. They happened to arrive just as a delivery truck dropped some off. Otherwise, they might not have found one.

“We used to live in South Carolina, so we’ve been through hurricanes before,” Debra said. “If there’s no power it’s hot and miserable and you can’t cook or freeze anything, so we bought a generator.”

Hurricane Irene was upgraded to a Category 3 hurricane Wednesday, calling for a storm surge of 9 to 12 feet and sustained winds of 111 to 130 mph. Damage in a Category 3 storm may be extensive on small buildings with low roofs, large trees and branches, and it may also cause power and water outages.

Forecasts say the storm will hit the coast of the Carolinas Saturday morning, and could arrive in Fairfield by Sunday. If it maintains its strength and stays on course, it will be the first hurricane to hit Fairfield since Gloria in 1986.

Fairfield resident Eileen Lisk missed her last chance to see a hurricane — she was out of town when Gloria hit 25 years ago. But she’s going to be prepared for Irene. Lisk stocked up on sandbags at The Home Depot to keep water out of her basement after buying bottled water and groceries at Stop and Shop.

“I’ve got a whole plan in my head,” Lisk said. “I figure it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Fairfield’s Emergency Management team has also been preparing, working on plans with the Police Department, Fire Department and state agencies. They encourage residents to check local news outlets and radio and TV stations for updates in case the town decides to evacuate an area. Residents can also call the emergency information hotline for updates at 203-254-4899.

Here are some tips for before, during or after the storm:

• Hold a family meeting to discuss the hazards of hurricanes and determine the need to evacuate or relocate. Families close to the water may need to be prepared to relocate before a storm’s arrival.

• Review insurance policies and secure important papers and valuables.

• Check the roof, windows, doors and landscaping and take precautions, such as removing weak branches from trees, checking shingles, tiles panels and gutters and securing when necessary; closing all windows; and securely fastening shutters.

• Accommodate all pets if you must evacuate. Space will be limited in pet-sheltering facilities.

• Gather supplies, including food, water and medications, and prepare a hurricane survival kit. The Fairfield Fire Department recommends having a first aid kit, two weeks supply of medicine, blankets or sleeping bags, extra clothing, lightweight folding chairs or cots, personal items, identification and money ready in case an of an evacuation.

• Choose a safe room — an interior room with no windows — if you need immediate protection.

• Let family, friends and caregivers know about your plans and assemble a list of important phone numbers and contacts.

• Prepare a water supply and maintain essential needs by prefilling sinks and tubs with water; filling one gallon containers for drinking purposes; setting your refrigerator/freezer on its coldest setting; and getting cash, filling gas tanks and charging cell phones.

• If you have a boat, Fairfield Police ask that you dry-dock it in advance of the storm. Vessels left at their moorings or in the harbor could be damaged by large tidal surges.

How have you prepared for Hurricane Irene? Share your tips in the comments below.

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