Manchester Officials: Hunker Down at Home Unless Residence Threatened
Officials met Sunday to outline plans for responding to the approaching storm
Manchester officials ask that residents make the necessary preparations to hunker down at home when Sandy arrives, or to seek shelter elsewhere if their home is in a potentially dangerous area.
"We're expecting the worst and hoping for the best," said Manchester's Emergency Management Coordinator Arthur Abline. "Everything is changing hour-by-hour."
Manchester and Lakehurst officials met Sunday morning to coordinate storm response plans. Officials have decided to alert some living near flood-prone areas in the Surf and Stream campground and Cedar Glen, areas where waters entered some homes when Tropical Storm Irene struck last year, to leave.
"We're not calling it a mandatory evacuation, but I would say that by the end of the day today we will certainly hit pretty much all of the areas that were affected by the floods last time and suggest to them that they seek shelter with somebody," said Chief of Police Brian Klimakowski.
Those asked to evacuate who do not have a place to stay will be able to seek shelter at: Toms River High School North, 1245 Old Freehold Rd., Southern Regional High School, 90 Cedar Bridge Rd., Manahawkin, or Pinelands Regional Junior High School, 590 Nugget Town Road, Tuckerton.
Otherwise, residents should buy enough supplies to last for seven days and stay home throughout the storm.
"Be prepared. Have in your home things you'd need for a seven-dday power outage," said Capt. Lisa Parker. JCP&L has issued a similar warning, stating that its customers should ready themselves for up to 10 days without electricity.
"Unless they're having a medical emergency, they should just stay where they are," Parker said. "They shouldn't go to a shelter unless they have a medical emergency or their house is no longer habitable."
Township administrators have been working with the state Department of Environmental Protection to lower the water level of Pine Lake, a move that may alleviate potential flooding township-wide, according to Klimakowski.
Irene, which hit in August 2011, showed officials that a storm's effects can be ongoing, even after it passes by.
"The biggest lesson we learned is preparing for the aftermath of what may come," Klimakowski said. "Irene came through and we didn't get hit with flooding until almost two days later. We're making contingency plans for not only what may happen during the storm, but also what may happen after."
"We're starting ahead of time," Abline said.
Though schools in Lakehurst and Manchester will be closed on Monday and Tuesday, township administration offices are scheduled to be open Monday.
"As the day progresses, they may close if things start to get bad," Klimakowski said. "But we do have a lot of services that we need to provide."
Manchester's on-duty police presence will be increased for the duration of the storm, Klimakowski said.
"We'll certainly up to numbers in the police department to ensure that it's adequate to cover the whole town," he said.
Emergency services including fire departments and first aid squads are working on staffing plans and will have their facilities manned throughout the storm, Klimakowski said.
Residents with special needs, such as those who rely on electricity for life-sustaining medical equipment, can be added to a list maintained by the township's emergency management office by calling 732-657-2009, ext. 4604. Police can use the list to check on those special needs residents during emergency situations when electricity and phones may be down.
If a resident needs to leave their home because of a medical condition but is unable, they should contact police to make arrangements. The department's non-emergency number is 732-657-6111.
"We will make arrangements to get them transported," Klimakowski said.
Abline warned that, during or after the storm, residents should stay away from downed wires.
"Any wire that comes down is considered live and dangerous," he said. "Stay away from it and let the emergency people deal with it."
Abline also cautioned that those using generators should make sure they are properly set up outside of the home, well ventilated and connected using the proper gauge electrical cord.