nav-riv-rdA pickup truck drives around a downed tree limb on Navesink River Road in Middletown Sunday morning. Below, Michael and Arnold Natali kayaking behind their home on Queens Drive South, Little Silver. (Click to enlarge)

natalisThat can’t be all there is, can it?

Sure, what used to be known as Hurricane Irene — now a tropical storm, according to meteorologists — was bad as fair as rainstorms go, leaving plenty of downed trees, limbs and wires, and the hazards they present.

Officials in Red Bank and Fair Haven, among other nearby locales, are warning residents to stay away from fallen trees and wires, and to keep their vehicles off the roads until road debris can be cleared.

Low-lying areas are underwater, and Sea Bright, nature’s punching bag, remained closed at midmorning as emergency and utility-company personnel checked for hazards such as gas leaks and stray electrical wires.

But the cataracts of rain, pouring water into our basements by the gallon? The horrific, howling winds shredding roofs? The daylong Cape Fear-style fury?

Feh. Irene went way off script, and hours before the forecasted end of it, locals were out in shorts and tee, enjoying the reprieve.

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Following a similar move by Governor Chris Christie, Monmouth County’s Freeholders declared a state of emergency Thursday night in anticipation of Hurricane Irene‘s arrival here this weekend.

The declaration “will allow the Office of Emergency Management to mobilize all county resources and direct them where they are needed to protect life and property,” according to an announcement from the county press office.

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circuit-breakerKnowing how to shut off your home’s utilities in advance can prevent a natural disaster from becoming a catastrophic event.

From the Federal Emergency Management Administration web page on utility shut-off and safety:

In the event of a disaster, you may be instructed to shut off the utility service at your home.

Below is some general guidance for shutting off utility service.  You should modify the information provided to reflect your shut off requirements as directed by your utility company.

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hot-topic rightThe National Weather Service recommends the following as part of a think-ahead in the event that residents must leave their homes in advance of a hurricane:

Develop a family hurricane preparedness plan before an actual storm threatens your area. If your family hurricane preparedness plan includes evacuation to a safer location for any of the reasons specified with in this web site, then it is important to consider the following points:

If ordered to evacuate, do not wait or delay your departure.
If possible, leave before local officials issue an evacuation order for your area. Even a slight delay in starting your evacuation will result in significantly longer travel times as traffic congestion worsens.

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hot-topic right

Weather experts recommend people in the path of a hurricane make up a plan in advance for ensuring the safety of all members of households.

The National Weather Service says those affected should:

check markDiscuss the type of hazards that could affect your family. Know your home’s vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind.

check markLocate a safe room or the safest areas in your home for each hurricane hazard. In certain circumstances the safest areas may not be your home but within your community.

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hot-topic rightThe National Weather Services recommends residents in the path of a hurricane put together disaster supply kits consisting of the following:

Check boxWater – at least 1 gallon daily per person for 3 to 7 days

Check boxFood – at least enough for 3 to 7 days
– non-perishable packaged or canned food / juices
– foods for infants or the elderly
– snack foods
– non-electric can opener
– cooking tools / fuel
– paper plates / plastic utensils

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hot-topic rightWeather forecasters have included the coastal region up to Sandy Hook in the hurricane warning area for Hurricane Irene, the National Weather Service reported Friday morning.

Though Irene’s strength dropped slightly to Category 2, meaning sustained winds below 110 miles per hour, the storm could regain strength as it nears New Jersey, which it is expected to wallop Saturday and Sunday.

Now is the time to be making serious preparations to protect life and property, safety experts say.

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