Warren Township officials have been getting set for any eventuality ahead of any landfall by Hurricane Sandy next week, capitalizing on lessons learned during last year's major storms.
Emergency responders have held several meetings in the last few days, and a larger emergency committee meeting is set for Saturday, as response plans are finalized.
Key to that planning, according to OEM Director Jane Asch, is to try and get residents to do some planning of their own.
"Now is the time to make your emergency preparations," Asch said.
She said it's important for families to have an emergency plan, just as the municipality, county and state do. The plan should take into consideration how you'll keep in touch with friends and relatives out of the area, what you'll do if the electricity is out (if you have a generator, make sure to get enough fuel and to check to make sure it's working properly), and where you'll go if you're forced to evacuate.
Asch said the township will have warming centers open if electricity is out for residents to charge up cell phones and computers, and a shelter can be opened if necessary for neighborhoods to be evacuated.
She also said the township will have a water spigot open at the Department fo Public Works shed for residents to get water if the normal supply gets contaminated.
Other things to check on before the storm hits include:
- Hurricane Sandy is expected to meet up with a severe storm from the northwest, meaning a double-whammy of high winds are possible—Asch said residents need to pick up outdoor items and furniture to prevent anything from getting whisked away.
- Check trees for dead or broken limbs and try to remove them before the storm—you can control where the branch falls while letting Mother Nature do the job for you could result in damage to your home or vehicles.
- Check your flashlights and charge up cell phones and computers ahead of the storm.
- It's best to be sure to have a supply of about one gallon of water per person for several days on hand, in case water supplies become tainted.
- The American Red Cross also recommend having some non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items, such as tuna fish, peanut butter, crackers and canned fruit on hand (make sure you have a manual can opener).
- And check your medication supplies.
Warren's Department of Public Works crews have been clearing debris from storm drains and culverts, where water ofter backs up, ahead of the storm also.
Mayor Carolann Garafola has been in contact with other area officials, and participating in the emergency planning. She said the township contacted local facilities for seniors and disabled residents to outline response plans.
The township has also created a system for notifying all members of the Community Emergency Response Team and the Office of Emergency Management partners on any developments or assignments as the storm develops, Mayor Garafola said.
Also as part of the planning, police, fire and rescue squad volunteers have all be put on alert, Asch said.
"We will open an emergency opertaing center, if necessary," Asch said. "We'll make sure, as much as possible, to be ready for any emergency."
The township is also encouraging residents with disabilities and seniors to complete the Register Ready form—that will allow the township to provide necessary transporation or help in the event of evacuations.
You can also stay abreast of developments through these websites and social media tools:
- National Weather Service - http://www.erh.noaa.gov/er/phi/
- National Hurricane Center - http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/
- New Jersey Office of Emergency Management - www.ready.nj.gov
- NJOEM on Facebook: www.facebook.com/READYNEWJERSEY
- NJOEM on Twitter: @NJOEM2010
- NIXLE - New Jersey residents can register to receive messages by sending a text message with their zip code to 888777 (data rates may apply depending on your plan). Online registration is also available at www.nixle.com.
- NJ Alert - NJ Alert is a free, voluntary and confidential emergency alerting system that allows NJ Office of Emergency Management officials to send E-mail or text messages to cell phones, and other email enabled devices during an emergency event. Sign up for NJ Alert by logging on to: www.njalert.gov.
- NOAA Weather Radio - is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from the nearest National Weather Service Office. NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts official Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. NOAA Weather Radios are typically inexpensive, easily available in stores and can often be programmed for your specific area. http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/
- The Somerset County website for Emergency Preparedness is very detailed with links to various websites that will be helpful to you and your families as you weather the storm.
To report power outages, call:
- FirstEnergy: 1-888-LIGHTSS (1-888-544-4877)
- PSE&G: 1 800-436-PSEG Downed wires should immediately be called in to your electric company or local police or fire department.
Never go near a downed power line.