Residents urged to 'prepare for the worst' as Leslie bears down on Island
Where to get information
The public are encouraged to tune in to regular news reports and updates regarding Tropical Storm Leslie particularly as it relates to possible changes in ferry and bus schedules.
For more information on Hurricane Leslie, residents can tune in to or log on to the following:
• Hurricane preparedness: www.emo.gov.bm
• Online weather updates: www.weather.bm
• Televised weather updates: CableVision Ch. 4 and WOW Ch. 100
• For The Public Forecast: Dial 977
• For The Current Observation: Dial 9771
• For The Marine Forecast Dial: 9772
• For Latest Warnings & Tropical Information: Dial 9773
• Government's Emergency Broadcast station is on 100.1 FM.
Residents are being urged to "prepare for the worst" as Hurricane Leslie seems set on a near direct hit on the Island.
Minister of National Security Wayne Perinchief issued a statement this afternoon after a meeting of the Emergency Measures Organisation.
In the statement he said public schools would remain closed and pupils would not return on Friday as anticipated.
He also urged residents to look after the elderly and vulnerable.
The statement said: "The Bermuda Weather Service (BWS) has advised that the latest forecast track for Hurricane Leslie brings it within 20 to 40 miles of the Island early Sunday morning as potentially a Category 2 hurricane with wind speeds exceeding 90 miles per hour.
"Leslie's closest point of approach to Bermuda within 72 hours (three days) is forecast to be 146 nautical miles to the South at 6pm on Saturday. However, the forecast track beyond 72 hours indicates that we can expect almost a direct hit."
Mr Perinchief said: “I urge all Bermuda residents to prepare for the worst. The EMO met this afternoon and I am happy to report that plans are in place and all services are ready for the impact of Leslie. Residents can find all the information they need to prepare on the EMO website at www.emo.gov.bm.”;
He said the public should only rely on official Government information on the storm which will be distributed to all local media through the Department of Communication and Information and will be updated on the EMO website.
Mr Perinchief also said residents should check on seniors and the vulnerable to ensure they are safe and secure, and to exercise good judgment throughout and after the storm by not putting themselves or others at risk.
“Residents should heed all warnings and advisories issued by the EMO – which includes staying out of the ocean and staying indoors once the storm starts to impact the Island,” said the Minister
The statement said the Bermuda Weather Service had advised that Leslie could be a historic storm for Bermuda as it was very large and forecast to intensify rapidly as it approached.
The Island could experience hurricane force winds for a sustained period of time, possibly up to two days. There will also be tropical storm force winds in advance and following the passage of Leslie by the Island.
Goverment said final storm preparations should be completed by Friday evening at the latest.
The Causeway will remain open until sustained winds exceed 50 knots.
"A decision will be made when to close the Causeway in the coming days and notice will be sent in advance of the closure. Residents should also be aware that the Causeway may remain closed for an extended period of time due to the expected duration of hurricane force winds," said the statement.
An emergency shelter will be opened at CedarBridge Academy and a notice will be sent advising when the shelter will open their doors to the public.
While public schools were scheduled to return on Friday the Ministry of Education has decided to keep schools closed for the day.
However, teachers and principals should report to their schools on Friday in order to prepare for the storm. A decision will be made on when schools will open following passage of the storm.
The Department of Tourism has an established Disaster Management Plan for periods of emergency.
The key role of the Department is to assist in relocating and sheltering visitors if needed. The Department is currently in Phase I of the Plan (Hurricane Watch) which includes liaising with the Bermuda Hotel Association to determine the occupancy level of licensed hotel properties and making preliminary assessments of which properties may be affected, as well as the needs of visitors.
The Department of Airport Operations (DAO) is currently liaising with airlines to ascertain when the airport will close and which flights may be cancelled. Those booked to travel on Friday, Saturday and Sunday are urged to check for updates. DAO has also advised residents who may have cars parked in any areas of the LF Wade International Airport to remove them before the storm hits as this area is prone to flooding.
The statement added: "Residents are advised to check their emergency kits to be sure supplies are adequate.
"A typical emergency kit would include items such as flashlights, batteries, a first aid kit, non–perishable foods, an ample water supply and disposable utensils. An updated Disaster Advisory Plan is posted on the Government Portal on the Ministry of Health website.
"For those needing treatment for any health issues, the Urgent Care Centre in St David's will be open, as will King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.
"Residents in low lying areas prone to flooding should take the necessary precautions as it is likely the storm surge coupled with the long duration of the storm will coincide with high tides, leading to flooding.
"Those residents with boats should make certain that their vessels are properly secured to prevent damage. It is also recommended that residents tie down any loose outdoor furniture or potted plants to prevent undue damage."
Meanwhile, Belco is preparing for a hurricane and boat haulers moved into high gear yesterday after at least two marinas were ordered evacuated.
Belco spokeswoman Susan McGrath-Smith said: “All equipment and staff are ready for restoration work when the storm passes.
“We urge everyone to take all necessary precautions, and will keep the public updated via the news media, our website and our Facebook page,” said Ms McGrath-Smith.
She also urged residents to use the storm preparation information posted on the utility company's website and in the Yellow Pages.
When contacted by The Royal Gazette yesterday, at least two boatyards were working around the clock to haul boats onto land to ride out the storm.
A spokesman for Spar Yard Industries said he received word early that Pier 41 at the Dockyard and PW's Marina would be evacuated early.
“We will be working around the clock absolutely, we've been watching this system since it moved off the coast of Africa,” said the spokesman, who asked not to be named.
He was confident there was enough room in the boatyard to meet the demand and he anticipates at least 500 boats will be hauled from local waters by the weekend.
At West End Yachts Limited, a spokeswoman said: “The rush started early and the push is on to get the expensive toys out of the water.
“We can handle it, but we'll be working straight through to the weekend. Permission has been granted to use the back streets and parking lots in Dockyard, if necessary,” she added.
Plans are also underway to shut down the Hamilton Docks at the end of business on Thursday.
General Manager at Stevedoring Services Peter Aldrich said portworkers need at least two days to prepare the docks for a storm.
“Its anticipated that we will be closed on Friday, this will be confirmed by the end of the day,” he said.
Notices were sent out yesterday asking people with containers on the docks to pick them up as soon as possible.
“The less containers we have on the docks the better,” said Mr Aldrich. “As an essential service we need to be up and running within the quickest time frame possible after a storm.
“There is always the threat of empty containers being washed overboard, we also need to tie down equipment and make sure there is no loose debris on the docks before the storm.
“We have our finger on the pulse of the situation and will make a decision by the end of the day on Wednesday,” said Mr Aldrich.
The container ship Bermuda Islander is due in port tomorrow from New Jersey. The ship, which normally leaves on Friday mornings, will be offloaded the same day it arrives and possibly sent back out to sea by sunset.
Cruise ship agents are also weighing up alternative destinations. The Norwegian Dawn is due in from Boston at 11am on Sunday.
Vice President of Maritime Operations at Meyer Agencies, Joe Semos said: “Tentative arrangements are being made for her to go to the Bahamas instead of Bermuda this weekend.
“We will know for sure by Friday when the ship boards in Boston,” he said.
The Norwegian Star which is due in port on Wednesday from New York, is still set to leave Bermuda on Friday at 5pm; but that too is subject to change.
“This is the first real storm we've had this year, but we still have six to eight weeks to go for this hurricane season. We're hoping this storm takes a turn away from Bermuda, but we're keeping a very close eye on it right now,” said Mr Semos
The Bermuda Weather Service will continue to monitor the storm as it tracks towards Bermuda. The surf in the local area started picking up late Monday.
Lifeguards at Horseshoe Bay closed down the beach to swimming at approximately 3pm on Monday. Since then they have advised that the surf conditions at Horseshoe Bay are too dangerous to allow entry for swimming.
A Government spokesman said: “At this time, the plan will be to suspend Horseshoe to Lifeguard coverage until conditions considerably improve.
“The red high surf warning signs remain erected along the South Shore from Church Bay, Southampton through to and including John Smith's Bay.”
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