Upper Macungie and Lehigh County officials gathered Friday to prepare for whatever Hurricane Sandy might bring to the region.
"There's so much variable in this storm," said Tom Nervine, director of Lehigh County's Emergency Services. He is coordinating with municipalities and agencies to figure out such things as: "What are the needs going to be? What are the unmet needs going to be? Where are the holes in the ice?"
The National Weather Service has predicted tropical storm conditions for the Lehigh Valley on Monday night and Tuesday. Sandy will bring showers starting Sunday, followed by heavy rain and wind. The storm could last into Wednesday.
Upper Macungie officials know the trouble spots in the community, such as which streets are prone to flooding. Crews are "ready to go" if barricades need to go up, areas need to be pumped of water, generators need to be put into service.
"We are ready," said Grant Grim, Upper Macungie's Fire Commissioner and Emergency Management Coordinator. "We don't want to have everybody in a panic, but we want everybody to prepare."
The township is prepared to set up its command center, and open shelters, if that proves necessary, Grim said.
Officials are urging residents to take the next few days to be ready, checking to make sure they have batteries in their flashlights, their gutters cleaned out, and the like.
"We are concerned that people take this [storm] seriously," Nervine said. "They have to be ready for it."
Last year's freak October storm had left many residents without power -- and many without power for days.
PPL Corp. said it's expanding staffing for round-the-clock coverage.
"We have already contacted our sister utilities in Kentucky — Kentucky Utilities and Louisville Gas and Electric — and are making plans for their crews to join us as early as Sunday night," said PPL spokesman Joe Nixon. "We’ve also called on utilities from other states for assistance, from locations including Texas, Arkansas and Utah. In addition, we’ve notified all of our contractors who normally assist in storm restoration to remain local, and we're cancelling any time off for our operations personnel next week."
Since last year's series of storms that resulted in prolonged power outages, PPL Electric Utilities has made many improvements to better respond to major storms, Nixon said. Customer service systems have been upgraded to ensure PPL can handle increased customer call volume.