At a press conference held on Friday afternoon at the City’s state of the art Emergency Operations Center, Mayor Bill Finch and City officials urged all City residents to remain calm and prepare accordingly as Hurricane Irene bears down on Bridgeport and the rest of Connecticut this weekend. The storm is expected to hit the area late Saturday night into Sunday with high winds, the possibility of up to 10 inches of rain and flooding. Mayor Finch urged all residents living in low-lying areas to voluntarily evacuate to a relative or friend’s home on higher ground prior to the storm’s arrival.
“Residents in low-lying areas of the City – the South End, West End, Black Rock, East End and part of the East Side – can expect to see significant flooding due to high amounts of rain and the expected storm surge,” said Mayor Finch. “I urge everyone in these areas to please find somewhere else to stay for the next couple of days.”
City officials do not have the authority to order a mandatory evacuation that decision is made by the Office of the Governor. The City will open Bassick and Harding High Schools as shelters beginning at 12 noon Saturday.
Mayor Finch added, “Our city very rarely gets a direct hit from a massive storm, this is one of those very rare occasions. We cannot take this lightly. Certain roads will be closed and electricity may be out for a significant period of time.”
Forecasters expect Irene to be a low Category 2 Tropical Storm when it enters the region between 10 p.m. Saturday and midnight.
Mayor Finch reiterated the importance of staying informed. “Do not assume that everyone knows about the severity of the storm. Please knock on your neighbors’ doors. Call your friends and family and ensure that they are properly informed.”
Residents should stay alert to news reports on TV or radio and online, and/or information from the City on its website, www.bridgeportct.gov, Facebook and Twitter — @CityofBptCT for updates on the approaching storm.
Police Chief Joseph Gaudett advises all residents to stay indoors during the storm. “Our focus during the storm is human health and safety. Please stay off the roads during the storm.”
Charles Carroll, Director of Public Works, Parks and Recreation, announced that all City parks, including Seaside and Beardsley will be closed to the public at noon tomorrow. He added, “We’re emphasizing safety first, including with our Public Works crews.”
Fire Chief Brian Rooney reminds residents to avoid using candles. “With the anticipated loss of electricity, we’d like to remind everyone to have functioning flashlights ready and available. Do not use candles or other flames for lighting or heat.”
Pets are allowed at both shelters. Parking for shelters are available at the JFK Campus, 700 Palisade Avenue for those staying at Harding High School and at Park and North Avenues, the parking for the former grocery store location, for those staying at Bassick High School.
During the storm, the public can call the Emergency Operations Center at 203.579.3829 or 203.576.1311. If you have a medical emergency call 911.