For Immediate Release - August 21, 2009


I just wanted to give you an update on Hurricane Bill's progress. On preparedness, I have been tracking the storm's progress with the help of the National Weather Service and MEMA and the Emergency Management officials for Cape Cod and the islands. As you may know, the Hurricane continues to travel northerly, with a projected track passing at this point well east and south of Nantucket, most likely from 150-200 miles off the southeast coast of Nantucket, with the greatest impact around daybreak on Sunday morning and then diminishing through the day.

Anybody who lives in New England knows that that can change, and change quickly, so please continue to monitor the progress of the storm throughout the weekend and we will be getting the most up to date information out to all of you and to other media outlets and to public safety and emergency officials as soon as we get it. Even with the projected timing and distance off shore, the hurricane can and most likely will have a serious impact on our coastal communities and even on some communities in Western Massachusetts.

On the Cape and islands boaters should expect high and treacherous seas, up to 25 foot seas southeast of Nantucket, 15-20 foot seas south of Martha's Vineyard and Block Island, and 10-15 foot seas along outer cape. Pleasure boaters should avoid the area around the outer Cape and the islands this weekend, and closely monitor the latest weather forecast, as well as US Coast Guard warnings and directives. Many boaters have had their crafts removed from the water as others are safely securing their boats in marinas, and that is why boaters should not stay on their boats to ride out the storm.

Swimmers should stay out of the water throughout this weekend; there will be life-threatening rip currents along the entire coast. It may be tempting to some to experience the high seas, but the water and waves will be unsafe even for strong swimmers. All beaches on Nantucket will be closed from noon today until Monday at 9 AM. South Beach in Edgartown on the Vineyard will be closed as well during the same hours. Those traveling on or off the island this weekend should just check the availability of ferry service before you set out so you don't end up at the ferry without a plan. Because of a related pressure system in southern New York, Western Massachusetts (particularly Berkshire County) should anticipate thunder storms and heavy winds earlier this evening. Flash flooding in low-lying areas is a risk there as well. We are prepared for this storm.

Based on the current projections from the National Weather Service we do not at this point anticipate having to open shelters, but emergency supplies and personnel have been or will soon be delivered to shelters on the Cape, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard just in case. We do not so far anticipate the need to evacuate anyone. The low lying areas on the coast should be prepared to move to higher ground or a shelter. Those people should prepare to shelter in place if the storm conditions worsen, and there is information on the MEMA and Red Cross websites about the kind of supplies the public may want to have on hand in the event of this kind of emergency and sheltering in place maybe Secretary or Director Boyes want to have a minute afterwards and you can give us those websites. I want to thank Secretary Burke and Undersecretary Schwartz and Director Boyes, the entire team at MEMA the Red Cross, including their extraordinary volunteers, and the emergency officials on the Cape and Islands who have been working at such close and constructive partnerships to prepare.

Everyone has kept public safety first in mind. We will remain in close contact with each other and with you and members of the public as information develops.