Jul 29, 2014
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Village, Borough Residents Urged to Prepare As Hurricane Sandy Strengthens

Forecasts warn of high winds, possible record flooding as storm threatens the East Coast.

Village, Borough Residents Urged to Prepare As Hurricane Sandy Strengthens

Ridgewood and Glen Rock officials are asking residents to begin preparing for the potential impacts of a storm that forecasters say could wreak havoc on the East Coast early next week.

Dubbed a “Frankenstorm,” federal forecasters warned the East Coast could be battered with gale-force winds and heavy-rains brought on by a hurricane mixing with a winter storm. The storm is expected to hit the Bergen County-area late Sunday, according to an advisory issued by the county’s emergency management office. 

Ridgewood gearing up for storm

"We have benefitted from 'lessons learned' from the last two storms and expect to be prepared for the storm," Ridgewood OEM Director Jeremy Kleiman said Thursday. 

The village has been closely monitoring the storm and are ready for whatever comes their way, he said.

"Starting this morning, village departments have been running through our preparation checklists. Those preparations include stream cleaning efforts concentrating on choke pints, readying the door dams for village hall, cleaning catch basins in low lying areas, and readying the village vehicle fleet."  

According to Kleiman, more preparations will be made as officials gain a keener understanding of the timing and severity of the storm.

Extra men ready next week if needed though it will be determined by department heads, Kleiman said. 

Plans for emegency generators and opening of shelters are underway, though it will depend on what conditions come next week, he added.

Ridgewood Police Chief John Ward stressed that residents should be prepared with up to 72 hours worth of non-perishable foods and supplies, including flashlights and batteries.

Those severely impacted by flooding in the village's low areas should begin moving valuables to higher levels and start making plans to be with relatives should it be necessary, he said.

The village will be contacting individuals with special needs to mitigate potential problems stemming from the upcoming storm, officials said.

"We're also asking that residents check in with seniors in their neighborhoods to make sure they're preparing properly or leaving the area," Ward told Patch.

When questioned, the chief acknowledged that the limitations of the department's fleet could pose problems but said the department will work through any deficiencies as best they can. Only two of the fleet's SUVs are currently operational and one does not have a computer in it.

Should it be necessary, Ward said they'll reach out to neighboring municipalities to see if they can borrow vehicles.

Glen Rock storm preparation effort taking shape

Glen Rock municipal officials will be meeting Friday to continue going over emergency plans, Glen Rock Police Cpt. Jonathan Miller said Thursday. They'll also confer with school officials to coordinate efforts, he said.

The Glen Rock Office of Emergency Management advised residents to start making preparations.

"As of tonight, the path of the storm is still unclear however, our area has not been taken out of the direct hit pattern," the message, posted on Facebook, stated. "This is a very large storm and not to be taken lightly. Please consider taking personal preparations for yourselves and your homes. Stock up on batteries and be prepared for power outages. Charge all items such as cellphones, computers etc. Stock up on food and water. Obtain gas as should the gas stations lose power, they may not be able to pump."

Borough Public Safety Chair Michael O'Hagan noted the borough's revamped communication strategy – with text messaging, GRTV, blast e-mail alerts and 411 calls – will help keep residents informed during what could be a tumultuous period.

The council will be working closely with the police department and bringing auxiliary officers to aid in storm efforts, O'Hagan said.

"I'm very confident that between police, fire, ambulance corps. and OEM crews that it will be handled in a professional way," O'Hagan said.

Councilman Art Pazan told Patch that the borough has taken a proactive approach, pointing to leaf collection starting earlier this year to mitigate hazards.

PSE&G 'ready' after last year's poor response

Municipal officials in both towns heaped heavy criticism on PSE&G for a slow response in returning power for thousands when the snow hit and trees fell last October. Some waited a week for the lights to turn back on.

PSE&G is ready for widespread electric outages, according to a company statement. 

“Depending on the severity of the storm, response times for both electric and gas emergency services may be longer than usual,” the utility said. “PSE&G asks for our customers’ patience and cooperation as we work to safely restore service as quickly as possible.”

Added replacement equipment including poles and transformers were brought in, and crews were taking precautions around power substations in areas known to flood, the statement said.

Noah Cohen contributed to this report.

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