Southern New England braces for superstorm
In Massachusetts, officials opened the state emergency operations center in Framingham to coordinate responses to the storm. Patrick ordered non-emergency state workers to stay home and encouraged private employers to tell their workers the same.
"We're going to get through this. We are as well-prepared as we possibly can be," Patrick said at a Sunday afternoon news conference. "This is Mother Nature and Mother Nature is unpredictable, but we are doing everything we can ... to prepare."
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said Sunday that all city public schools will be closed Monday and he ordered all nonessential city workers to stay home Monday.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which runs Boston's subway and bus service in the region, said it planned to run normal schedules on Monday, but that commuters should expect delays and disruptions.
Also, President Barack Obama signed an emergency declaration for Massachusetts, ordering federal aid to supplement state and local response due to emergency conditions resulting from the storm.
The Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee was sending most of its fleet of C-5 aircraft to Florida in anticipation of the storm.
Home and business owners on Cape Cod said they were worried about high winds and flooding.
Grace Matakanski, of Bourne, Mass., was busy Sunday bringing patio chairs and planters inside. She lives in a condominium complex near the Cape Cod Canal.
"I'm looking around to see what could blow in the wind and hit the windows, things like that," she said. "Everybody is hunkering down. I just hope we don't lose power."
At Bradford's Ace Hardware in Hyannis, general manager Ken Rose said the rush to get storm supplies started Wednesday and continued Sunday as the storm drew closer. Rose said he's sold hundreds of flashlights, batteries and battery-operated lanterns. Rose and his staff were also busy putting plywood up to cover up windows at the store.
"My store is two blocks from the ocean. I'm concerned, absolutely," he said. "You prepare as much as you can and it's beyond your control after that."
In Rhode Island, Gov. Lincoln Chafee declared a state of emergency and Westerly officials ordered mandatory evacuations of the Misquamicut and Watch Hill beach communities and other low-lying areas.
"The flooding and the storm surge are my biggest concerns right now," Chafee said Sunday. "A big, big storm event is coming to Rhode Island."
Flooding was expected not only in Rhode Island beach towns but also in many communities along Narragansett Bay. Chafee said Providence's hurricane barrier hasn't been tested yet and he worried about where water south of the barrier would go.
In Westerly, Misquamicut Fire Chief Louis Misto said residents in Misquamicut, Watch Hill and other vulnerable areas were told to leave by 8 p.m. Sunday.
"I think the shoreline is going to take a pounding from the high surf," Misto said. "Late tomorrow, tomorrow evening, we're expecting the waves to come over the dunes. We're expecting roads to be impassible."
Associated Press writer Denise Lavoie in Whitman, Mass., contributed to this report.