UPDATE: Hurricane Irene: Tri-boro Officials Confident in Preparation
Kinnelon, Butler and Bloomingdale officials said the boroughs are well-prepared for Sunday's storm.
Many of us are not sure what Sunday's weather, when Hurricane Irene is expected to impact our area, will be like, but the mayors of both Kinnelon and Bloomingdale are confident that both boroughs are well prepared for whatever comes our way.
"The town is prepared for the hurricane on every level," said Bloomingdale Mayor Jon Dunleavy Thursday. "We are coordinated with the [Office of Emergency Management] OEM, the police department and [Department of Public Works]. We have made arrangements if any animals need evacuation from [The Bloomingdale Animal Shelter] BASS."
Bloomingdale OEM Coordinator Pete Croop said borough officials have all been working together to make sure everything is in place in case the borough does get heavily impacted.
"We have an excellent team of people and we're about as prepared as we can be," he said.
For Bloomingdale, preparation not only includes gathering supplies, but preparing for possible flooding on Main Street and in the vicinity of Brandt Lane and Van Dam Avenue. Croop said the borough has already set up three evacuation locations if the residents of that section, and others, of the borough need to quickly leave their homes.
The borough does have three shelter locations in place, although all those in need of shelter must first contact the police department.
Croop said the borough is equipped to house about 100 people if need be, but the most residents he can remember having to shelter were 12 at one time. This past March a few families were evacuated due to flooding.
"We did evacuate three families from Brandt Lane and a family from Main Street," Croop said.
If an evacuation is needed, Croop said borough officials will knock on the doors of the residents who must leave their homes.
"If we do an evacuation, people do have the option of staying with friends and or relatives," Croop said. Croop also said there are residents who have drainage issues near their homes and that those areas will be monitored as well.
Some neighboring communities have even considered lowering the water in their lakes, but that's not something Croop said the borough has the authority to order for Glenwild Lake or the other lakes in the borough.
"The lakes are private and you would need [Department of Environmental Protection] permission to do that," he said.
But according to the mayor, the borough has reached out to the governor's office to see if the reservoirs of the Newark Watershed can be lowered in advance so that additional water would not have to be released, potentially worsening Bloomingdale's flooding probability. Croop said he attended a county OEM meeting Thursday, and that an answer on whether that can be done was not yet given.
The Bloomingdale Police Department is already preparing messages that will go out through the SWIFT 911 alert system directly to residents' phones and emails who are signed up for the program, Croop said. The Kinnelon Police Department utilizes the Nixle system to alert residents in emergency events.
Kinnelon Mayor Bob Collins said he is proud of the work the police department and Kinnelon Volunteer Fire Co. members have done to prepare the borough for the storm.
The police and firemen and OEM have done an incredible job of preparing for the storm and we're hopeful that we'll come through unscathed and without anyone being hurt," Collins said. "We're just asking our residents to prepare as well and to kind of look out for each other."
Collins said the storm is projected to bring high winds and that when they are able, residents should check on their neighbors.
Kinnelon OEM Coordinator Harry Hicks said OEMs not just in the tri-boro but throughout the country use information from previous events to prepare.
"A task for all municipal OEMs-and for emergency management in general-is to plan, based on what has happened in the last hundred years and what could happen in the next," he said.
Hicks said the police department, DPW and fire company are all ready for immediate response. Additionally, Hicks said the Kinnelon Health Department has files of which residences are typically impacted during power outages.
Shelter locations have also been established for those who need them, Hicks said.
Anyone requiring shelter must first contact police, but Kinnelon Police Lt. John Schwartz said Kiel School will be the main shelter location for Kinnelon.
"It doesn't sound like it's going to be a normal rainy day," Schwartz said.
Butler Police Lt. Mike Moeller said a shelter has been established for residents who need it at the Carey Avenue firehouse. Additionally, the police department has notified businesses in flood-prone areas that there is a likely chance of flooding near Hamburg Turnpike and Maple Lake Road, Moeller said.
According to Moeller, Jordan Transporation, the bus company located on Main Street, experiences flooding in their parking lot and the company has already begun re-locating the buses.
"They're going to be moving their buses to area schools and behind Borough Hall," Moeller said.
Butler Electric, which services the entire tri-boro area, will have crews out on Sunday ready to repair any wires or service interruptions, Moeller said.
The borough will also be using its reverse 9-1-1 system, which does not require a sign up, to alert residents of emergency information.
"As long as they have a phone number in town it goes right to their home phones," he said.
Schwartz encouraged residents to prepare in advance by stocking up on food and water and considering what to do if power does go out.
"Just make sure that you do have a supply of flashlights or candles and if you are using candles, be smart about monitoring them," he said.
He also said that neighbors should watch out for those individuals on oxygen supplies and check on them if possible.
"We do encourage self-responsibility," added Hicks. He asked that residents consider the following prior to the storm:
- "Are there trees on your property which might knock down wires? If so, have them trimmed now-before (winter) storms.
- Do you have bottled water, food, a first-aid kit, medications, appropriate warm clothing and blankets?
- Is your vehicle ready, full of fuel, to transport you out of the area?"