Plan for the worst: Red Cross storm advise

A coconut tree falls and is washed away by rains from Hurricane Sandy, as a river swells to...

A coconut tree falls and is washed away by rains from Hurricane Sandy, as a river swells to dangerous levels and threatens homes along the bank, in Port-au-Prince October 26, 2012. REUTERS/Swoan Parker

SHAWN JEFFORDS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:29 PM ET

Do not underestimate Frankenstorm.

Tom Windebank, a disaster services manager for the Canadian Red Cross, urged Toronto residents on Sunday to plan for the worst.

Massive Hurricane Sandy is expected to make landfall on the U.S. Eastern seaboard Monday before heading north to Ontario and Quebec.

"It looks fairly scary," Windebank said. "We hope for the best, but plan for the worst. We are hoping this thing just goes away, but if it doesn't, we want to make sure it has minimal impact on our community and we're all prepared."

Weather forecasts paint a dire picture with the weather system poised to hit the Greater Toronto Area late Monday or early Tuesday.

Expect high winds, heavy rain -- and potentially snow, according to Environment Canada.

Windebank said the Red Cross has been mobilizing since Thursday for the storm, stocking up their warehouse in east Toronto with bottled water, blankets, cots and other supplies in case of an emergency.

"There is a high probability of high winds and heavy rain which could lead to downed trees, power outages and flooding ... ," Windebank said. "These things are entirely possible so we want to be ready for that."

The Red Cross has 200 volunteers on standby in Toronto and 2,000 ready across the province. They are prepared if the provincial government needs to dispatch them anywhere in Ontario, Windebank said.

"We're just waiting to get the word from them and we'll move into action immediately," he said.

In the U.S., the approach of the storm set off a scramble this weekend for supplies from Virginia to New England. There were long lines at gas stations, a run on bread, bottled water and canned goods at grocery stores, and bare shelves at hardware and home-supply shops.

New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore and Boston are all in the hurricane's path.

Windebank also wouldn't rule out the possibility of local volunteers heading south the help in the U.S.

"We were there for 9/11, we were there for Katrina, were there for Ike," he said. "If this is serious for the East Coast of the United States and they need our help, we'll be there to help them."

-- With files from Reuters

shawn.jeffords@sunmedia.ca

The Red Cross recommends Ontarians stock up on these items in advance of Hurricane Sandy's arrival:

** Enough non-perishable food to last 72 hours.

** Two litres of water for drinking and two litres of water for washing per person, per day.

** A manual can opener.

** Medication if you have a prescription you will require.

** Cash in small bills.

** Fill up your gas tank.

** Crank or battery operated radio and flashlight, with extra batteries.

** First aid kit.

** Any special items like baby formula or diapers.


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