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Foxborough Braces for Worst of Hurricane Sandy; Expects Power Outages

Foxborough Fire Chief Roger Hatfield provided the town an update on Hurricane Sandy preparations and protocol during the storm at Monday’s Board of Selectmen meeting.

Foxborough officials said Monday morning the town is prepared for the worst of Hurricane Sandy, which is expected to peak in the Foxborough area around noon and last late into Monday night.

“It’s a slow moving storm,” said Foxborough Fire Chief Roger Hatfield during a Monday morning emergency Board of Selectmen meeting at Town Hall. “It has been moving 10 to 15 mph. … It’s a 12-hour storm, so from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. we are going to see the majority of the impact from the storm. It’s probably going to peak somewhere between noon and 3 p.m.”

Town Manager Kevin Paicos said the storm could bring high wind and heavy rain to the area but it will be a wait-and-see-approach in Foxborough.

“We are right on the edge of the storm,” Paicos said. “We could get clobbered or we may escape. We are preparing for the worst.”

Hatfield said the town is expecting 30 to 35 mph winds with spikes around 50 to 55 mph, which could lead to the town’s biggest concern – power outages.

“National Grid has done a lot of great pruning over the summer so that should help limit the amount of outages that we see but that wind is right at that point where it is unpredictable,” Hatfield said.

To assist Foxborough with any power outages that do result from the storm, National Grid liaison Tom Coughlin will be on hand at the Public Safety building to provide direct communication between the town and the utility company.

“I’m ecstatic to have Tom Coughlin here as a liaison,” Hatfield said. “As we saw from the last two storms a year ago, having Tom here we now have direct information and direct conversations with National Grid.”

As for opening shelters if power outages are similar to the ones experienced from last year's storms, Hatfield said it all depends on the critical need of the community.

“If it ends up being our senior housing again and it is our fragile seniors [that are affected then] we are going to absolutely open up a local shelter here in the community,” Hatfield said. “If it’s people in our community who are middle aged or younger homeowners then we will probably take part in the regional sheltering that the state has been encouraging us to do for years. At this point, no shelter in our area has been established or opened. There has been six shelters opened by the Commonwealth but they are all in the coastal communities.

“I want to make it clear we are not going to overreact and not going to under react in regards to shelters. If a decision is made that we are going to open up a shelter we will work as a team like we did last year and we will make sure we get the word out to the community.”

Speaking of reaching out to the community to share information during and after the storm, Hatfield said the town has organized four ways to communicate with its residents.

“Last year we did a half-decent job getting the word out [to the community],” Hatfield said. “To get the message out [this year], we’ve established four ways of communication.”

They are:

Hatfield said the town will be taking advantage of online tools such as Foxborough Patch, Facebook and Twitter to reach people with smartphones, who are able to check for updates on those devices. The town will also provide updates on its billboards on Foxboro Common.

If you lose power, Hatfield has instructed residents to report it to National Grid by calling 1-800-322-3223 or 1-800-465-1212. To report downed wires or trees in town, call the Foxborough Fire Department at (508) 543-1238.

Foxborough Police Chief Edward O’Leary said the department has put an additional patrol officer on the road for the next 24 hours, beginning at 8 a.m. Monday and all other officers are on hand in case the storm “radically worsens throughout the day.”

“We are in position to receive calls for services, especially wires down, traffic or public hazard,” O’Leary said. “We are just going to go by what we see during the day today unless there is some significant change by Tuesday morning, I would expect us to go back to normal staffing.”

Paicos said town facilities were open Monday morning but closed at noon Monday in anticipation of the storm. Boyden Library followed similar protocol. To view the list of closures an cancellations in Foxborough due to the storm, click here.

Hatfield says the town has had five days to prepare for this storm and is confident it is ready to handle whatever comes its way.

“At this point I think we are really ready, we’ve had plenty of time to get ready and I think we’ve been communicating our message,” Hatfield said.

Whether it’s our free morning  e-mail newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, downloading our app or returning to our homepage, come back to Foxborough Patch today and throughout the storm for the latest on information about the storm and how it's affecting Foxborough.

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