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How to Prepare for a Westchester Hurricane

YORKTOWN, N.Y. – First an earthquake shook the ground in Westchester, now a hurricane threatens to bring heavy rain, wind, coastal flooding and possible damages to the area by Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

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.

Only five hurricanes have passed within 75 miles of New York City since 1851 — Hurricane Gloria was the most recent 26 years ago, according to

“We are very concerned with what’s going to happen in New England,” said National Hurricane Center Director, Bill Read on the service’s website. “The benchmark is the 1938 hurricane. I am very concerned with what will happen there.”

While of course following weather reports diligently is a form of preparation, there are other ways Westchester homeowners and residents can start preparing.

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

• Planning for materials should include:• Cell phones• List of phone numbers in sealed containers• Battery-operated radios to listen for updates• Advance plans about meeting places if necessary, taking into action your children’s school district escape plans.• Flashlights and batteries• A good first aid kit and sufficient medications• At least three days of non-perishable food• Water• Blankets• Can/Bottle opener• Copies of important family documents, passports, birth certificates and a supply of cash• Gather supplies, including food, water and medications, and prepare a hurricane survival kit .

Mark Aakjar, the owner of Marks Inspections performs home inspections throughout all of Westchester, and has tips for how to front the storm, and how to make sure your home does as well.

“For this storm, you don’t necessarily have to board up your windows -- that’s for 100 m.p.h. winds, and they haven’t predicted that, but the winds are going to be fairly strong, and last a long time so there are ways to prepare,” Aakjar said.

He said it’s best to have things in order in regards to protection for your home before the storm, not after. For that reason, he recommends contacting your insurance carrier to find out what sorts of things are covered in case of a storm—such as flooding and tree damage.

For those who have swimming pools, Aakjar recommends taking upwards of 6 or 7 inches of water out of the pool, before rainwater fills it up again. He also said, when it comes to boarding windows, which might not be necessary unless this storm unpredictably reaches 100 m.p.h winds, board the windows with at least 6 inch screws (not nails) and make sure they fit tightly.

“When people hear a storm is coming, they run out and get duct tape. It’s great, but it won’t stop the storm, it will only stop the shards of window glass from blowing all over your house,” he explained. Aakjar also recommended picking up a small generator that could efficiently generate energy for a few household appliances before the storm—not after, as they are usually hard to find, or much more expensive.

How will you prepare for the hurricane? Tell us on our Facebook or on Twitter .

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