The devastating impact expected from Hurricane Sandy to hit Washington Township has elicited a major pre-emptive strike from local officials after a meeting Friday afternoon.
Late in the day, Mayor Ken Short, along with Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Jim Smith met with heads from town departments to go over preparation as the so-called "Frankenstorm" draws near.
In an email to officials not attending the meeting, Short said the town is expecting 8 to 12 inches of rain and winds of 70 miles per hour during the storm, from Sunday night through Tuesday evening.
Despite a massive tree-cutting effort and other upgrades in the past year by utility provider JCP&L, Short expect lengthy power outages as a result of the storm.
"We are expecting 7-10 days of power outages," he said in the email. "I have had several contacts with JCP&L. They are moving crews to staging areas in preparation for outages. They have also reserved local motels for the crews so they do not have to travel for hours."
Washington Township's Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.) has been mobilized and duties assigned, Short said. Seven school buses have been moved to the Department of Public Works for evacuation purposes, and another eight buses have also been relocated and made available for use.
Short-term shelters available for use will be the Senior Center at Rock Spring Park, and St. Luke's Church on West Mill Road. If conditions worsen, Short said, the Washington Township Library will also be made available in addition to Benedict A. Cucinella School.
The township has picked up 40 cots from the Morris County Office of Emergency Management and will be available as needed, Short said. Some 60 cases of water have been made available if needed, and the town has arranged for Bob's Long Valley Pizza to provide food, if needed, since the eatery has generators.
Road closures will be posted every hour on the township website and Long Valley Patch. Communication will go through Reverse 9-1-1, the Honeywell alert system, NIXLE, Twitter, emails and roadside signs (if made available by the county).
"This has the potential to be a catastophic event," Short said.
If the storm wreaks enough havoc, Short will make a decision on moving trick-or-treat hours–scheduled for 2 to 9 p.m. Wednesday–to another day.