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Towns Take Disaster Prep to Regional Level

Red Cross certification to be sought by five municipalities.

The list of differences between Washington Township, the Chesters and Mendhams is just as long as their individual country roads.

But one thing that all five towns share are the battle scars, stories and disruptions that Hurricane Sandy brought to the area in the fall of 2012.

Residents from each town were out of power for up to 15 days, with schools closed anywhere between seven and 10 days.

The time is now, according to each of the town’s leaders, to work together and help each other in preparing for the next time a devastating natural disaster winds its way through the region.

At a recent meeting of the mayors, Office of Emergency Management members from each of the towns spoke about the needs of the municipality he served if another storm were to approach and cause similar havoc.

The resounding agreement was in sheltering, and finding overnight locations for residents to stay in a time of crisis and long power outages.

In order to be Red Cross certified, towns must follow a laundry list of guidelines set by the organization and have a trained Red Cross shelter manager overseeing the station, according to Washington Township Community Emergency Response Team Deputy Coordinator Bruce Clark. In Washington Township, one such person is available, who will be conducting a training session in March.

Representatives from the four other towns will likely join the training session, as it’s the starting point in making a Red Cross shelter available in a town.

“[The training] is a critical base to start with,” said Chester Borough Mayor Bob Davis.

If a town’s shelter is Red Cross approved, food, insurance liability and janitorial services are provided by the organization, Clark said.

Becoming C.E.R.T.-ified

While Washington Township has an established, all-volunteer Community Emergency Response Team that was able to assist during Sandy, only Mendham Township is following suit.

Mendham Township’s Evan Thomas is leading that group, which is currently in the middle of training 15 members. But Chester Borough, Township and Mendham Borough do not have such a group.

It’s a plan those remaining towns said they will likely pursue, utilizing the aid of volunteers in the community.

In addition, the towns agreed it would be prudent to all gather and set up a game plan on a regional level ahead of any impending storm of great magnitude, with Chester Borough acting as a central point.

The mayors plan to continue meeting and discussing ways to help each other going forward, and have set their next meeting for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28 at the Mendham Township Municipal Building.

Mike February 04, 2013 at 02:23 PM
Mendham Boro and Mendham Townships CERT teams are a joint crew with members from both towns.

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