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State of Emergency Declared for Peabody

Mayor declares state of emergency. City will take whatever steps necessary to preserve public safety, provide emergency assistance and protect infrastructure.

Mayor Ted Bettencourt declared a state of emergency for Peabody Monday afternoon, saying Hurricane Sandy poses a significant threat to public safety.

The declaration was issued just after 12:30 p.m. Statewide, Gov. Deval Patrick issued an emergency declaration last week, with an eye particularly to the South Shore and Cape Cod, which are expected to see the worst of the hurricane in Massachusetts.

The state of emergency will be in effect until rescinded by an official order from Bettencourt, and in the meantime directs all available city resources to "take whatever steps necessary" to protect life and property, public infrastructure and provide emergency assistance as needed.

A storm command center has been established at the Department of Public Services.

Bettencourt said in a subsequent interview that the greater threat at this time looks to be mainly from damaging winds when the brunt of Sandy hits later this afternoon. Those wind gusts will likely down trees and power lines, causing widespread outages.

About 1-3 inches of rain, possibly more, is expected as well throughout the day and may lead to some flooding -- the concern of meteorologists is mainly for coastal communities. Bettencourt said city crews have been out for the past few days clearing out culverts, storm drains and any choke points.

He said the city's emergency response team is prepared and ready to jump into action with its plans. The team met again this morning and has been talking with both the American Red Cross and Lynn officials on shelters for residents if needed.

Bettencourt said Lynn is prepared to open a shelter at Lynn Classical High School, the Red Cross regional shelter is at the Newbury Elementary School and city officials here are considering opening Peabody Veterans Memorial High School and the Torigian Center as shelters if need be.

Police, fire and light plant crews are out now responding to some calls of downed trees and power lines, and Bettencourt said, both police and fire chiefs are ready to call in all hands if needed.

"We expect it to get worse," he said. "Everybody is on notice and prepared to go if need be."

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