In an effort to ramp up communications and assistance between the township and its residents, the Washington Township Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is offering different ways for townspeople to stay informed.
Residents can now receive spoken alerts on their mobile phones by signing up for Morris County Emergency Notification System (Reverse 911) when township officials are trying to communicate about a potential problem in town.
Jim Smith, the OEM deputy coordinator, has spearheaded the effort along with the establishment of the town’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), after the town was devastated by natural disasters and lengthy power outages on various occasions in 2011.
“The communications and help just wasn’t there last year,” Smith said. “We can’t let that happen again, and we’re doing whatever it takes to help the residents.”
Along with the Reverse 911 capability, residents can also receive text message alerts through the Nixle system, which is overseen by the New Jersey State Police, Smith said.
By signing up for Nixle, residents will receive text messages to their mobile phones in the event of road closures, severe weather alerts or anything that will delay or impede normal daily activities.
Reverse 911 will be used in cases of Amber and Silver alerts, when children or seniors go missing, Smith said. Reverse 911 was used to alert residents in town recently when a rabid cat bit an adult and was roaming a neighborhood, Smith said.
In the span of eight weeks in 2011, Washington Township was hit by a hurricane, and blizzard. The and left some homeowners without power for as many as nine days.
Lack of communication from the town to residents, as well as from energy provider Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) were cause for concern going forward, and have been addressed since the weather problems.
The township hosted a meeting with officials from . Since that time, an aggressive tree-cutting program has been in effect to help limit the amount of limbs that fall on power lines during storms.
The implementation of the . The group of 12 volunteers, currently going through training sessions, will be dispatched to help with road closures and other assistance measures during weather-related disasters.
To sign up for Reverse 911, visit morriscounty.onthealert.com and establish an account. To receive text messages from the Nixle service, send a text message reading “07853” to the phone number 888777.
For more information about the office of emergency management, visit wtmorris-oem.org.