Watch the weather.
That's the word from Woodbridge's chief of the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) on what you can do right now to prepare for Hurricane Sandy. Patrick Kenny is keeping an eye on the weather, and he wants township residents to do the same.
"We're watching the storm. We're keeping a close eye on what's going on, and we're prepared," Kenny said.
Flooding is a huge issue in town, especially after the destruction wrought by Hurricane Irene last year in the Woodbridge area.
OEM is prepared, Kenny said.
"The Department of Public Works is making sure culverts and streams are clear so water can flow. We're going to go out and clean low lying areas, to make sure they're running free. We'll also do a "reverse 911" to neighborhoods affected by flooding," he said, referring to the township's call system to warn residents to be prepared to evacuate.
"We also go door to door and knock, to make sure people know they have to leave," Kenny said. "I'm not one to rely just on electronics. I want people at risk to know firsthand what's going on in that situation."
In the event of evacuation, the township's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) will be setting up a shelter at the Woodbridge Community Center. They'll also use the building as a command post.
The Woodbridge CERT team, which falls under Kenny's jurisdiction, is highly trained. "They know how to open up a shelter, they know how to monitor it. Some of them are EMTs. About half are certified first responders. They have specific training, they help with evacuations," he said.
Evacuations are a judgment call Kenny said he'll make as the storm progresses.
"We'll be out Sunday afternoon, checking the flood-prone areas," Kenny said. He's also in close communication with the Middlesex County OEM, and the state.
Meanwhile, he has some recommendations for residents before the storm hits:
- If you live in a low-lying area, move your car to higher ground.
- If you have anything of importance in your basement, move it to the main level of your home so it's not damaged in case your basement floods or the electricity goes off and sump pumps fail.
- Speaking of sump pumps, check yours now to make sure they're working.
- Make sure you have flashlights and batteries, and that they work.
- If you have outdoor items, such as patio furniture, make sure it's secured.
- Check TV 36 for updates as well as Woodbridge Patch itself, and Patch's Twitter and Facebook pages.