A satellite image shown Saturday at the National Hurricane Center in Miami shows Sandy positioned about 335 miles southeast of Charleston, S.C.  Sandy is
A satellite image shown Saturday at the National Hurricane Center in Miami shows Sandy positioned about 335 miles southeast of Charleston, S.C. Sandy is projected to hit the Atlantic Coast early Tuesday. (Associated Press)
UPDATE: Prepared Berkshires bracing for impact from Hurricane Sandy

Sunday October 28, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- As the so-called "super storm" Sandy makes its way toward the East Coast, some people are preparing for a worst-case scenario while others are treating the news with skepticism.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick isn't taking any chances, declaring a state of emergency on Saturday. New England will begin to feel the impact of the far-reaching storm, currently a Category 1 hurricane, sometime this evening.

Weather forecasters say Sandy could be worse than last year's Tropical Storm Irene and leave millions of people in the Northeast without power for days and possibly weeks.

As of Saturday evening, the center or eye of the storm is forecast to reach the coast in southern New Jersey this afternoon.

Patrick held a press conference in Framingham on Saturday afternoon where he said 200 members of the National Guard have already been mobilized in the state and that number will increase to 1,000 by Monday.

According to The Boston Globe, Patrick will also submit a pre-emptive request to Pres ident Barack Obama for a disaster declaration, just as he did before Irene hit last August.

"While we continue to hope for the best, we're preparing for the worst," Patrick said.

The storm's unpredictability is amplified by the possibility of it colliding with a dipping jet stream and a strong high-pressure system moving south from eastern Canada which could create "The Perfect Storm," weather experts said.

Its also prompted the storm to be called "Frankenstorm," a term the National Weather Service isn't endorsing.

On Saturday many Berk shire residents were busy "battening down the hatches" bringing in loose outdoor furniture and potted plants, clean ing out gutters and storm drains and buying supplies.

Stores like Carr Hardware Supply and Rental and Big Y had streams of customers stocking up on everything they may need.

Bart Raser, co-owner of Carr Hardware, said he can't keep generators in stock after selling 62 of them on Friday and another 40 or so on Saturday.

"We don't know what kind of storm is on its way so people are getting prepared for all scenarios," he said. "For tunately we were heavily inventoried and we've got vendors working extra hours to get us what we need for people."

Raser said customers were also buying chainsaws, water pumps and shop vacuums in case they are required in the cleanup.

An employee at the Big Y said there hadn't been a huge surge of people stockpiling emergency supplies but there was a lot of bottled water, batteries and candles sold.

Pittsfield Fire Department Deputy Chief Bruce Kilmer urged anyone using alternative energy sources, like generators, to be sure they are properly installed and to be aware of the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning.

"With the high winds, we're suggesting people stay indoors, too," Kilmer said. "Fortunately we've lost a lot of leaves so the limbs won't be as heavy, but that doesn't mean they won't fall and cause power outages or damage."

City officials, watching the storm's progress, have tentatively scheduled a meeting for Monday morning to determine if any further measures need to be taken, Kilmer said.

Although she shares the same name as the storm, Sandra "Sandy" Ketcham hopes the hurricane is more hype than reality.

Having the same name as an impending hurricane isn't easy, she said.

"Hopefully it won't be a bad storm so people don't end up like last year and I don't get picked on," Ketcham said.

Not everyone however is making a big deal about the possible rainfall and high winds.

"I think sometimes news like this gets sensationalized and over-hyped," said Pitts field resident Mike Farella. "I guess we're prepared but we're certainly not running out to buy extra stuff. We're taking it easy."

To reach Josh Stilts:
jstilts@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6243
On Twitter: @JoshStilts