It's their job to worry about the what ifs.
In Red Bank's council chambers Friday afternoon, the heads of multiple borough departments gathered to talk planning for Hurricane Sandy, and contingencies should the storm come close to unleashing the devastation some foresee.
Sandy is expected to arrive along the Jersey Shore Monday, following Sunday rain and quickening winds. Concerns, locally, are that sustained winds, coupled with heavy rain and even the full moon could lead to serious flooding should Sandy hit the Greater Red Bank area directly.
There's the potential that Sandy could turn into another Hurricane Irene, where inland residents dealt with some minor basement flooding and power outages exacerbated by a poor response from Jersey Central Power and Light, rather than the doom scenario that lead to serious concerns day before it's arrival. But without a clear sense of where the storm will end up, or what kind of power it will be packing, there's only room for being prepared.
In Red Bank, storm concerns often involve the Navesink, which is prone to flooding.
"If (Sandy) is below us, we'll get all of the wind and all of the water along with it," Red Bank Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Tommy Welsh said. "If it's above us, it will do the opposite, it will pull that water away. It's a full moon tide so we're probably going to end up with water anyway."
For now, the borough is taking the steps to mitigate potential problems that could arise. Though it's not official just yet, the borough is likely to ask residents today or tomorrow to stop raking leaves into the street. Loading up streets with leaves during the storm's expected rain and wind could clog drainage systems and cause more flooding.
Though the storm is expected to bring consistent winds of 30 mph with bursts of 60 mph, Borough Administrator Stanley Sickles said that shouldn't pose the biggest problem.
"The wind is not going to be as big a deal as the rain, which is coming before the storm and will saturate the ground," he said.
Department of Public Works Director Gary Watson said crews have been testing drainage lines in preparation for the storm and clearing out catch basins as they go. Crews will be on hand throughout the weekend to clear leaves and debris from roadways throughout the borough. Code enforcement will also likely warn residents with Halloween decorations that they should be removed if heavy winds plague the area.
Because of the wet ground, Sickles said trees are more prone to laying over, which could cause downed power lines and power outages.
When it comes to providing the public with emergency updates, the borough has already sent out several soft emergency bulletins giving them the basics of storm preparation, including what supplies to buy, how to operate a generator, and how to keep safe during a storm. As things progress and should the storm pose a more significant risk, the borough will provide emergency announcements on its website, and will contact residents via email and telephone to alert them.
Friday's meeting was the second this week, with more planned for Saturday and Sunday — multiple times each day if needed.
"The residents were happy (during Hurricane Irene) with the amount of info that went out," Welsh said. "It wasn't too much and they weren't overwhelmed. I think it's important for people to know that we're meeting on it regularly and we're preparing."