Governor Janet Mills and the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) are urging Maine people to be prepared in advance of Hurricane Lee potentially making landfall in Maine at the end of this week.
MEMA is closely monitoring the path of Hurricane Lee and is coordinating with State public safety and transportation officials, Federal and local emergency management officials, and Maine’s utilities in advance of the storm. MEMA has placed the Emergency Operations Center on enhanced monitoring status.
The National Weather Service offices in Caribou and Gray, in coordination with the National Hurricane Center, report that Maine will experience impacts from Lee beginning Friday night into Saturday morning due to a westward shift in the storm track and widening storm radius.
The storm is predicted to slowly weaken to a Category 1 storm and eventually downgrade to a tropical storm as it makes landfall. Tropical storm force winds, coastal flooding and high surf, and riverine flooding are all possible impacts from the storm.
Central Maine Power (CMP) is also raising concerns about the health of Maine trees following the heavy rainfall received this summer and the impacts on the electric grid during this storm. The heavy rainfall has increased soil saturation, flooding, and nutrient runoff that has led to weakened or rotted root systems. CMP has said that, depending on Hurricane Lee’s track and the strength of storm winds, Maine could see worsened impacts to the power grid because of trees fall or losing limbs.
“We are tracking the path of the storm and coordinating with Federal and local partners to prepare for its arrival,” said Governor Janet Mills. “We urge Maine people to exercise caution and to take common-sense steps to ensure they have all they need to stay safe as the storm draws closer moving into the weekend.”
“The track of Lee is still unknown, but we want folks to pay attention to this storm through the weekend,” said Peter Rogers, Director of the Maine Emergency Management Agency. “MEMA is working with state, federal, non-profit, and private sector partners to assess resources and ensure readiness in advance of the storm. We want everyone to stay safe and please check in on your neighbors.”
To prepare for the storm, MEMA recommends:
- Check that your emergency kit includes supplies needed for several days without power, including food, water, and hand sanitizer. Also consider medications, pet food or other special needs.
- Get the latest alerts and warnings on your smartphone by downloading the free FEMA app or National Weather Service app.
- Ensure cell phones are enabled to receive National Weather Service Wireless Emergency Alerts for tornadoes, flash flooding and other emergency situations.
- Charge cell phones and other electronic devices.
- Determine local evacuation routes.
- Bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
- Ensure generators are properly installed, fueled, and in good working order.
Preparations for mariners:
- Mariners should listen to weather forecasts and plan ahead.
- Mariners should consider altering plans to avoid possible hazardous conditions. Remain in port, seek safe harbor, alter course, and/or secure the vessel for severe wind and waves.
- Haul out your boat if possible and secure it or add additional lines in advance of a hurricane.
- Secure electronic position indicating radio beacons. If unsecured, an EPIRB can break free from a boat and trigger an emergency signal to the Coast Guard.
- Contact local marinas to ask for advice about securing a vessel.
- Ensure boating gear is properly stowed or tied down to avoid causing unnecessary searches by the Coast Guard and other first responders. Life jackets, life rafts and small non-powered vessels are some examples of boating equipment often found adrift following severe weather.
- Beachgoers should heed warnings from local lifeguards and weather services in regards to the approaching storm. Wave heights and currents typically increase before a storm makes landfall. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by tropical storms or hurricanes.
- Label and secure your paddlecraft. Storms can cause unsecured paddlecraft to break loose, which will result in search and rescue cases. If gear and craft are labeled properly, search and rescue coordinators can reach out quickly to see if an individual was in distress.
To prepare for a power outage:
- Find Alternate Power Sources. Plan for batteries and alternative power sources to meet your needs when the power goes out, such as a portable charger or power bank. Have flashlights for every household member. Remember, never use a generator indoors.
- Appliances. Disconnect appliances and electronics to avoid damage from electrical surges. Install carbon monoxide detectors with battery backup in central locations on every level of your home to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Food Storage. Keep freezers and refrigerators closed. A refrigerator will keep food cold for four hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours. If you are in doubt, monitor temperatures with a thermometer and throw out food if the temperature is 40 degrees or higher.
- Know Your Medical Needs. If you rely on electricity for any medical needs, make a power outage plan for medical devices or refrigerated medicines. Find out how long medication can be stored at higher temperatures and get specific guidance for any medications that are critical for life.
- Cleanup. After power and other utilities have been restored, you might face the issue of what to do with storm-damaged trees. Maine Forest Service offers tips and helpful guidance for those faced with questions about what to do with downed trees, limbs, and branches.
Atlantic Hurricane season runs June 1-November 30. Maine people are encouraged to get familiar with the Hurricane Evacuation Dashboard on MEMA’s homepage. For timely safety and preparedness information, find MEMA on Facebook or Twitter or visit www.Maine.gov/MEMA.