Montville Township is beginning to prepare for Hurricane Sandy should the storm hit the northeastern part of the state, as expected, early next week.
"At the moment, it's just kind of a wait-and-see," Montville Township police Capt. Ed Rosellini said Thursday. "We don't really know where it's going to go."
According to Morris County Office of Emergency Management Director Jeff Paul, the storm was traveling north at a speed of 20 mph with winds of up to 105 mph as of 11 a.m. Thursday. Paul said "flash flooding is extremely likely" and it is possible that record-level flooding will occur. Rainfall could total more than 5 inches and winds could reach speeds of 70 mph or higher.
Rosellini said township officials are in the process of preparing for the storm, with more formal plans to follow, if needed. A nixle alert advising the community of the storm was sent out Thursday afternoon.
In the meantime, Rosellini advised residents to begin preparing on their own.
"People want to make sure that they have water on hand, they want to make sure they have some place they can go if they have to," Rosellini said.
Rosellini also advised residents to store valuables and paper items at elevated levels and to make sure they have flashlights and batteries avilable in the event there are power outages.
Morris County Preparation Underway
Surrounding communities have also started to prepare for the storm. The Denville Police Department send a Nixle alert out to residents Thursday afternoon describing storm predictions and advising residents of how to plan.
"The potential continues to increase for strong damaging winds, extremely heavy rainfall and major flooding along streams and rivers. In addition, residents should plan for extended power outages," the Nixle message said.
In Parsippany, Police Chief Anthony DeZenzo said the department will be monitoring the storm through the National Weather Service website and that families should create disaster supply kits.
Meanwhile, planning on the county level is already underway and the Morris County OEM has reached out to local emergency officials to offer support.
"Although these forecasts will likely change as we get closer to the weekend, it is important that we plan now for the potential impact. We can always scale back our plans, but it is generally more difficult to plan as the event unfolds," Paul said.
Long-term power outage preparation is advised, Paul said, and outages can be reported through the JCP&L website. Residents are encouraged to clear their yards of debris that can clog or back up drains, particularly leaves, so that additional flooding is not caused.
"The Morris County Office of Emergency Management will be working long hours making sure that everything that can be done is being done, we will plan, we will prepare and we will be here 24-7 to support you and your local response to this storm as well as future events," Paul wrote to the local emergency officials.
The county OEM will be working with the Morris County Sheriff's Office, Morris County Prosecutor's Office and Morris County Park Police to respond to "critical incidents" and offer support to municipalities in need. The Community/County Animal Response Team has also been contacted and is equipped with two trailers able to house 50 animals if needed.
PSE&G has been in touch with county officials and Paul said they are preparing for gas-related issues after the storm caused by increased water levels.
Sheltering will likely not be available at Mennen Arena, as it was during storms last year, and the county OEM has advised municipalities to establish local shelter operations. The American Red Cross will be available, as needed, to support local shelter set-ups.
Paul said residents should also begin to prepare on their own.
"Families should be evaluating their emergency plan and if they reside in a flood-prone area, be prepared to evacuate if they are instructed to do so," he said.
The county OEM will be communicating with the public through its blog here.