NEW BEDFORD — The SouthCoast has begun making preparations for what is now once again Hurricane Jose, but is expected to hit New England as a tropical storm beginning Tuesday.

"Mother Nature is pretty powerful, as folks in Florida and Texas have learned the hard way the past couple of weeks," New Bedford Mayor Mitchell said. "We just want people to be safe. That's the first order of business for us."

The mayor called into WBSM's Barry Richard Monday afternoon to discuss the city's storm prep plans.

"We've been following this storm very closely," Mitchell said. "It's a funny storm, it's just been sort of puttering along the last week and the tract has been all over the place. Some of them have taken the storm really close to us."

He said he'd just recently spoken with MEMA officials, and that the storm could bring up to 5-7 inches of rain to New Bedford.

"We've reached the point now where it's pretty clear it's not going to be a direct hit, but we're going to get hit with something," Mitchell said. "We're going to get high winds and a lot of rain that is going to start in earnest (Tuesday) and run into Wednesday."

The mayor said city workers will keep an eye on areas where there is poor drainage, but noted crews have already been out clearing storm drains and dealing with branches. He also said that they are also "taking a close look" at the city's pumping stations, which he says are always constantly tested but still warrant extra precaution before a storm such as this.

As for schools, Mitchell said any decision to close them down would likely be "a last-minute decision."

"Schools closing depends on the track of the storm," he said. "As it's getting closer, if it looks like it's going to be a tough ride to school or a tough return home for kids, we might call it off, but that remains to be seen. That will be a last-minute decision, so people should stay tuned, although it's less likely that would happen (Tuesday) and more likely Wednesday."

Trash collection will be delayed beginning Wednesday morning. Residents should not leave garbage cans out on Tuesday evening. Wednesday trash collection will be delayed to Thursday morning. Thursday trash collection will be delayed to Friday morning, and Friday trash collection will be delayed until Saturday morning.

Beaches will also be closed during the storm, and Mitchell urged people to stay away from the water.

"It's just not a good idea," he said. "We all see people doing dumb things in the middle of bad storms, but don't do it because the police will pull you off. We've had some storms in the past where it's been touch-and-go for police to go out and pull people back in."

He also said that, as of right now, there are no plans to open any shelters for people who may be displaced during the storm, but said that a plan is in place if that becomes necessary to shelter people at Keith Middle School.

But Mitchell also said he doesn't think this storm will be bad enough to warrant such as extremes, and that people should be able to ride out the storm in their own homes if they just take the necessary steps before it hits.

"If you respect the power of these big storms and take common sense precautions, you'll be fine," he said. "This storm is powerful enough to pose certain threats, and you just have to keep those things in mind."

"Common sense should prevail."

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