15 Sep 2014
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Hurricane Sandy: Don't Wait to Prepare, Mayor Says

Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty, Police Capt. Steven Sarinelli, other officials held Sunday press conference at Town Hall.

Hurricane Sandy: Don't Wait to Prepare, Mayor Says

Morristown's mayor called several times for residents to practice common sense during the duration of Hurricane Sandy.

"We need to take this storm very seriously," Tim Dougherty said during a late Sunday afternoon press conference from Morristown's Office of Emergency Management epicenter, the basement of Town Hall. "Don't wait to react, tomorrow it's going to be on."

Dougherty said all departments had been called to work, including fire, police, health and public works, and would be working until the hurricane reached its "recovery" phase.

The mayor also said, besides having state and local conference calls, he had been in contact with JCP&L, which he said has dropped about 500 tons of sandbags at its substations from here through to South Jersey, which current projections indicate will be getting the brunt of this weather event.

"They seem to be completely ready for this storm," Dougherty said.

That said, given much of the ire raised toward the utility company last year following Hurricane Irene and the October snowstorm, the mayor noted people should not expect JCP&L crews to be up on power lines in repair mode when a storm is surging all around them.

"Don't expect JCP&L to come out right away," Dougherty said. "They're not going to be out there [at the height of the storm.] We have to be patient."

One comment made by JCP&L, the mayor said, was for people to prepare to be without power "for seven to 10 days."

Morristown Police Capt. Steven Sarinelli said the town has been in "prep phase" for several days already, but, "people have to be self-sustaining," he said.

"The public has to realize we can't do everything," Dougherty said.

Mennen Arena, in Morris Township, was opened at 5 p.m. Sunday as a county emergency shelter. Shelters in Morristown at Town Hall and Morristown High School would be opened on an as-needed basis, Sarinelli said. Those in need of shelter or know of someone who needs to be taken there should contact the town OEM at 973-292-4884. If unable to call, "no one will be turned away," the police captain said. The town OEM also now has a Facebook page set up for those who get their information that way.

Additionally, information will be available at 973-796-1911. An information booth also is expected to be set up in the lobby of Town Hall in the event of power loss.

Dougherty again emphasized common sense, noting he had personally seen people raking leaves onto the street—despite numerous calls for keeping storm drains clear—on Sunday. "If they're not paying attention, they might not realize the severity of this," he said, adding that any outdoor furniture or Halloween decorations should be secured or removed immediately. "Don't wait until tomorrow to be prepared."

As for Morristown's downtown Trick-or-Event event scheduled for Wednesday, the mayor said, "as of now it's still on."

For the next few days, just about everything is on a "to-be-determined" basis. But, town officials said they are up to the challenge.

"We're prepared. We're ready," Dougherty said.

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