A hurricane has hit East Hampton and your home is without power. There is no telephone service, no running water and no lights.
Where do you go?
To answer that question, a group of planners decided to put together an emergency preparedness brochure so that the public has important information at their fingertips during an emergency.
Sue Avedon, the chairwoman of East Hampton Town’s Citizens Emergency Preparedness Task Force, said that her group has been committed to putting out the brochure since the group was founded in June 2013.
The brochure, which can be picked up at any town building or at doctors’ offices or libraries, lists post-storm warming and cooling centers, those with generators and those without, and facilities that will be open to the public to charge cellphones and computers and to use the restrooms.
The flier also lists shelters: East Hampton High School, the Montauk Playhouse, the Montauk School and Pierson High School, as well as, for pets, the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons. An entire panel is devoted to what to do when a pet needs shelter and cannot stay with its owner.
The committee also lists several tips from Suffolk County’s Office of Emergency Management, including developing a storm plan; knowing the flood evacuation route; stocking up 10 to 14 days of food, water and hygiene items before the storm hits; and keeping at least $300 in cash on hand.
It might be surprising to some that a resource like this wasn’t already around, but Ms. Avedon said she was struck with inspiration during Superstorm Sandy.
“There were so many people who lost electricity and didn’t know where they could go,” she said on Monday. “There was a Red Cross center opened at East Hampton High School, and I took advantage of it … It wasn’t being fully utilized, and there were cots not being used.”
Task force member Sheila Rogers, who is the executive vice president of the East Hampton Library board and director of the East Hampton Healthcare Foundation, said that a lot of people knew the library had power. In fact, on the first day when many residents were without power, 1,400 of them filed into the library to use the internet, charge their phones and use the restroom. It made such an impact on the library staff that when the library underwent its renovation this past year, library officials were sure to add power stations to every lamppost at the library.
Mr. Rogers had told Ms. Avedon that the healthcare center never shut down during that period, which Ms. Avedon didn’t realize.
Ms. Rogers said when she realized the task force committee was assembling, she wanted in on it, especially after seeing the community in need during Sandy. The brochure just made sense.
“We are alone out here in the middle of a big body of water, and there’s only one way off,” she said. “Let me tell you, the traffic this summer taught me a lesson. We are not getting off this island.”
After several meetings and with help from town officials, fire departments and publicist Keri Lamparter, the committee came up with its brochure, which will soon be available in both English and Spanish, just as a first draft of the brochure was earlier this year.
East Hampton Town Emergency Preparedness coordinator Bruce Bates, who has worked with the committee, said it was a lot of work, but that the brochure provides enough information without overwhelming the reader.
He said the committee will continue to work on getting information out to everyone about what to do in case of an emergency, including through live forums or shows on LTV.
According to Ms. Avedon, the town is in the middle of planning three days of classes on November 12, 13 and 14 at the East Hampton Library that will cover natural disaster awareness for caregivers and seniors, coastal community “resiliency” and social media during disaster recovery.
Mr. Bates said the town continues to get word out through LTV, through the town’s website and through social media, and that the community needs to continually check those resources during an event.
He said planning and knowing where to get information is so important.
“Unfortunately, people really don’t consider these situations until it is upon us and there’s not much planning to be done at that point,” he said. “It seems we have to have an event somewhere before people take notice. Our job is never done.”