Towns, County Brace for “Mother of All Storms”

BY  |  Friday, Aug 26, 2011 12:03pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

It’s hard to reach a public official in Baristaville today because they’re all in meetings with their emergency teams. We reached two mayors, though, Bloomfield’s Mayor Raymond McCarthy and South Orange Village President Alex Torpey, to find out what preparations are in place. South Orange has already declared a State of Emergency (it’s on Torpey’s Facebook page, where you can expect up-to-the-minute updates). He was planning to go into an OEM meeting at noon, but says the main precaution so far has been to make sure that police and firefighting personnel will be in place for the weekend.

In Bloomfield, Mayor McCarthy just came out of a preparedness meeting and was planning to spread a message for residents on TV 35. McCarthy says he’s been informed that Hurricane Irene could hit our area as early as 8 p.m. Saturday night. Earlier estimates had been for Irene to hit Baristaville around 2 a.m. Sunday.

McCarthy is urging residents to stock up on water, batteries and flashlights, and to stay in their homes during the storm. “Don’t go outside,” he said. The town’s civic center at 84 Broad Street, however, is being prepared as a public shelter.

Scene today on LBI

Although Mayor Cory Booker’s office sent out a press release last night urging residents to board up windows, McCarthy has not heard that kind of advice. “Nobody that we’ve talked to so far has suggested that homeowners put plywood on their windows,” he said.

Montclair Mayor Jerry Fried did not return our call. Montclair township manager Marc Dashield was in an OEM meeting, as was Lt. Peter Eakly of the Millburn Police Department.

This just in from the Essex County Sheriff’s Office:

Essex OEM Prepared for “Irene”

Newark – Sheriff Armando Fontoura, Essex County emergency management coordinator, today advised area residents to prepare for the impact of hurricane “Irene” which is expected to hit New Jersey on Saturday. The sheriff further advised that the Essex County Office of Emergency Management is fully prepared to mitigate the impact of the pending storm.

“Essex County residents should have already compiled items for an emergency supply kit, including water, food, first aid equipment, medications and batteries,” Sheriff Fontoura said. “Complete information about emergency supplies can be found on our website, www.essexsheriff.com, and other websites.”

During the past few days, Fontoura and Essex County emergency management personnel have conducted planning sessions, regarding hurricane “Irene”, with County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, the heads of various county departments, the New Jersey State Police, the American Red Cross, municipal emergency management coordinators, municipal police and fire departments, health care providers, utility companies and others.

“We had a successful dress rehearsal for “Irene” with tropical storm “Floyd” in 1999,” Fontoura noted. “As with “Floyd”, nothing will be left to chance with “Irene” as we anticipate that this may well be the mother of all storms as far as Essex County is concerned.”

The Essex County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will be activated on Saturday. It will remain open throughout the duration of the hurricane and until hurricane-related emergencies have been mitigated. The EOC features complete interoperable communications so that all police, fire and emergency medical technician units can stay in contact with each other during this weekend’s major weather event.

“In addition to our interoperable communications abilities at the EOC, we will also be able to provide additional and back-up frequencies, if needed,” the sheriff pointed out.

Also during the past week, the Essex County Office of Emergency Management’s vast armada of disaster response vehicles and equipment has been inspected and serviced. Among this equipment are a mobile command post, people-moving trucks that operate in high water conditions, off-road vehicles, patrol and recovery boats, power generators, portable lighting equipment, road barricades and electronic message boards.

Meanwhile, as Baristanet cybrarian Arnie Korotkin has pointed out, the Little Falls township website was down as of 12:30 p.m.

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