BUTLER TWP. -- Butler Township resident Sandra Brill found something to laugh about Monday morning as she lifted belongings onto counters and tables in case it floods.
‚??My namesake is really wreaking havoc,‚?Ě she said of Hurricane Sandy.
A township emergency worker came knocking around 11 a.m. urging Sandra and her husband, Stephen, to evacuate because the nearby Nescopeck Creek may flood. They were among about 30 families asked to voluntarily evacuate.
The Brills were a step ahead. They had contacted a Hazleton area hotel on the weekend, snatching up its last available room. Most contents of their freezer were cooked and packed up because they had little hope their power will remain on.
They expect to eat the food cold in their hotel room. Essential belongings were loaded into a trailer already hitched to their street-facing vehicle out front.
The Maple Drive land was in Brill‚??s family for decades, and they elevated their home six feet after floodwaters destroyed the prior structure in 2000.
Despite the precautions, the water stopped at the doorsill in September 2011 and rose several inches in the living area in 2006.
‚??We just hope and pray it doesn‚??t come this high,‚?Ě Stephen said as he eyed his treasured hardwood floors.
Downed trees also are a concern. His car was crushed when a tree landed on it in a past storm. The couple removed some older trees last summer as a precaution and secured outside belongings.
In nearby Freeland, borough Council President Bob Quinn said he could feel the wind pushing against his car as he entered the municipality around 4 p.m. Wind is a particular concern because Freeland is 1,943 feet above sea level, which makes it the highest-elevated borough in Pennsylvania.
Police and ambulance crews are scheduled around the clock, and an emergency plan is in place, Quinn said.
Portable light stands were readied to illuminate main arteries if the power goes out, and generators will be used to operate traffic lights, he said. Garbage collection was postponed to minimize objects whipping through the borough, and street and fire crews will be on call to deal with downed trees and other safety hazards, he said.
Two of the three senior-living apartments in the borough are equipped with generators, and one was secured for the third because some residents rely on oxygen, he said. The American Red Cross was preparing an evacuation center at Hazleton Area High School on Monday afternoon, said Butler Township Manager Maryanne Petrilla.
The center may be needed for displaced Interstate 80 and 81 travelers in addition to local residents, she said. Hazleton Transit bus service ceased at 2 p.m. Monday, said the city‚??s acting Administration Director Steve Hahn. City road and fire department crews are stocked with chainsaws to attack downed trees, he said.
City Police Chief Frank DeAndrea asked citizens to heed emergency warnings and said they should not bog down police with non-emergency calls seeking information on weather and road conditions. ‚??Use common sense. Stay home,‚?Ě he said.
In nearby Freeland, borough Council President Bob Quinn said he could feel the wind pushing against his car as he entered the municipality around 4 p.m.