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Needham Gets Ready For Hurricane Sandy

The town plans to open a respite center if there are extended power outages during or after the storm, which is expected to arrive early next week.

Whether Sandy is still a hurricane when it blows through Massachusetts early next week remains to be seen. But whatever happens, agencies, utility companies and emergency responders across the region are getting ready and making sure residents know where to turn if problems arise.

Stay Up-to-Date on Needham Plans

Needham officials are keeping a close eye on the storm, particularly with the special Town Meeting scheduled for Monday evening.

On Friday morning, the Needham town manager posted this update on needhamma.gov:

As the impact of Hurricane Sandy threatens our area, the ability to hold Town Meeting on its scheduled date of Monday, Oct. 29 becomes a concern. At this time, no change has been made in the schedule for Town Meeting to be held on Monday, Oct. 29 at James Hugh Powers Hall beginning at 7:30 p.m. Continue to check this newsflash for updates.

Some forecasts have put the worst of the storm right around the time of the scheduled Town Meeting. Needham Fire Chief Paul Buckley said the town would likely make a decision about the meeting by Sunday evening. Information will be posted on the town website and plans are in place to do a calling tree among Town Meeting members to get the word out of the meeting is postponed.

“For now, we’re just kind of in wait and see mode,” Buckley said.

Those who haven’t already can sign up for news alerts on the town website and make sure they have registered their current telephone numbers and email addresses with the town’s emergency notification system, Swiftreach 9-1-1.

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In Case of a Power Outage

Buckley and other Needham department heads met Friday afternoon to discuss storm preparations and response, including how the town would be working with NSTAR in the case of massive power outages.

Buckley said NSTAR wants residents to keep reporting power outages if they are extended for long periods of time.

“If people lose their electricity, they should definitely call NSTAR and keep calling every 12 to 24 hours. Say they lose power on Monday evening. If they still don’t have it back by Tuesday afternoon, they should call again, and same thing if it’s still not back on Wednesday. That’s what NSTAR needs people to do—follow up,” Buckley said.

Residents can report an outage by calling NSTAR at 800-592-2000 or by using the company’s online form.

The town has also prepared to open a “respite center” if there are widespread power outages during and after the storm. The site would give residents a place to catch up on news, charge their cell phones and get out of the house for a bit if the electricity is down for an extended period of time.

If the Needham Free Public Library still has power, it will be the designated respite center; if not, Town Hall is the place to go, Buckley said. Both sites would be open extended hours, depending on the need.

“Fortunately, the forecast is for mild temperatures so we don’t anticipate the need for an overnight shelter,” he said.

Use Caution Near Downed Wires

One of the most important messages Buckley hopes residents hear is to stay away from any downed wires, even if they think the electricity is off.

“All downed wires should be treated as live and dangerous,” he said. “People should stay well clear of any wire which may come down with this type of storm. It is not necessary to come in contact with live wires to be electrocuted; simply getting close to a wire can trigger a serious shock.”

Check out the yellow Needham emergency information flyer in the image gallery above for more about how the town communicates information during a storm or other emergency situation.

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