It was less than a year ago that Hurricane Irene inflicted serious damage on the east coast of the United States. With hurricane season officially starting on Friday, the state is taking steps to try and avoid a repeat of Irene in 2012.
New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness Director Edward Dickson and New Jersey State Police Superintendent Colonel Rick Fuentes recently announced some of the changes being made. That includes an increase in communication to help residents prepare for emergency situations.
With hurricane season running through Nov. 30 Dickson said hopefully with preparation New Jersey residents will be ready should a similar storm strike the state. "Last summer, New Jersey experienced first-hand the damage and destruction caused by Hurricane Irene, and we remain committed to reminding residents, businesses and visitors to be prepared for any type of emergency as we begin the summer travel and vacation season," he said.
As part of the preparation efforts the state's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) will be increasing its communication efforts throughout the state. "Though hurricane season may start on June 1 and end on Nov. 30, preparedness is a way of life," Fuentes said. "Preparedness means moving from 'lessons learned,' to 'lessons applied,' in order to increase our state of readiness each and every year."
Working with the OEM Fuentes said they hope to keep everyone as safe as possible. "Our goal is disaster survivors, not disaster victims," he said.
The importance of preparation was also echoed by Health and Senior Services Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd. "As always, the best time to prepare for an emergency is before it happens," she said. "By taking time to review emergency plans and develop emergency kits, families can avoid serious illness or death if a hurricane or major storm should strike New Jersey."
There are several basic steps that residents can take to help them prepare for an emergency situation such as a hurricane, Dickson and Fuentes said. They include making an emergency bag including items such as bottled water, a battery-powered radio, flashlights, non-perishable foods and medications.
Families should also develop emergency plans so everyone knows who to contact and where to go during an emergency event. Residents and visitors should also know their surrounding area for things like evacuation routes and shelters should they be needed.