September 17, 2014

Sandy will have impact in Wisconsin

As huricance Sandy slams into the northeastern United States, transplanted Wisconsin residents are as ready as possible. The hurricane’s impacts will be felt as far inland as eastern Wisconsin.

A Manitowoc native is in the path of the superstorm that’s threatening the eastern seaboard. Bonnie Tassell lives with her daughter in Stafford, Virginia. She said the rush to prepare began last Friday. “I went to the stores, and already they were running out of generators,” she said. “Every day since I’ve been at the store, the shelves are pretty bare. You can hardly get in the parking lots, they’re so full.”

“We went and bought a case of water bottles and dried food,” said Serena Cisneros, a graduate of Madison West High School and UW-Milwaukee, now living in the New York City borough of Queens. “It seemed like at every store there was a line, mainly for water.”

Tassell said “they’re stocked up and have a lot of ice” in readiness for the emergency. “Hopefully we won’t be without power too long,” she said. “They’re estimating possibly a week, if it goes out.” Cisneros said New York City residents were also urged to purchase batteries and candles, to prepare for possible power outages. “There’s low-lying areas in Queens that are already experiencing flooding.”

Tod Pritchard of Wisconsin Emergency Management just happens to be on the east coast during this so-called Frankenstorm. Pritchard is attending a previously-scheduled Federal Emergency Management Administration Conference in Emmitsburg, Maryland. “We’re getting a lot of rain right now,” said Pritchard. “It’s a cold, sideways rain. The wind is blowing at about 26 miles an hour.”

Closer to home, Sandy will have an impact all along Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan shore. “In the near shore waters of Lake Michigan, there’s going to be gusts of up to 45 knots,” said Morgan Books, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Sullivan. “That’s going to create waves up to 14 to 18 feet.” There’s a gale warning in place for Lake Michigan. People need to be secure anything that could blow away – and take boats out of the water. Strong northerly winds of 30 to 40 miles an hour are expected for eastern Wisconsin into Wednesday.

Pritchard said being on the east coast during this monster hurricane is quite an eye-opener for him. “For a Wisconsin guy to go through a hurricane, I’ve never gone through anything like this before.” In New York, Sandy is also a new experience for Cisneros. “With Irene last year, it was windy, but nothing like this,” she said.

Tassell is no stranger to disaster: she also witnessed California wildfire a number of years ago. “I’m not so crazy about that, because you never know where you can go,” she said. “Here at least, we’re in place where we can get out.”

Current projections are predicting that Sandy will make landfall somewhere near Cap May, New Jersey, but the storm’s impact will be felt for hundreds of miles up and down the east coast. Air and passenger rail travel has been shut down.

Governor Scott Walker announced Monday that the Wisconsin National Guard stands ready to assist civilian authorities supporting Hurricane Sandy relief efforts in the impacted regions. The Wisconsin National Guard supported relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and ice storms in North Dakota in 2009.