Tag Archives: Hurricane Irene

How New Jersey Kept Residents in the Dark After Hurricane Irene

Bookmark and Share    Under the exemplary leadership of Governor Chris Christie, before and during Hurricane Irene, New Jersey was prepared for the dangerous weather system in a way that can only be considered superb.  Even in the storm’s aftermath, the state did a good job.  But there is one area where all government entities failed the citizenry.

At one point immediately following Hurricane Irene, a whopping 2 million New Jersey residents were left without power.  The news widely reported that the state government warned that some homes would be without power for as long as three to five days.  While such a long timeframe could produce a great deal of consternation, it is hard to argue that all involved in getting power back on were not doing all they could.  The extreme circumstances of widespread statewide damage made it the duration of time requiring to fix everything quite logical.  So I will fault no one for that reality.

However there is a great deal of blame that must be shared for one poorly served area of responsibility.  Most all locations and citizens who lost power, suffered from an incredible lack of communication between the state and their local governments. None of them were told by anyone, what was going on. None of them were told when to expect their power to go on and if they might be without power for so long that it would best for them to temporarily relocate.

Even those who have the most up-to-date, modern communication technology were eventually kept in the dark.  Not only do laptops lose internet connection to the news once power is gone, cell phones also run out of power and in many cases electrical powered telephones with landlines become useless without electricity.

Furthermore; in the case of senior citizens, many do not use cell phones and lack advanced communication tools, but even those who do have cell phones and such, eventually run out of power and therefore their communication capabilities.

These people were figuratively as well as  literally kept in the dark. 

Now I won’t lay the blame for this on the Governor. Afterall, there are County governments and even more directly, there are municipal governments. In the case of the senior community in question, they even have a community management team. All of these lines of defense come before the state government, yet ALL of them failed the people.

This was a total lack of proper, effective, leadership, and the failure should serve as a lesson that allows the government chain of command to not fail the citizenry they serve and answer to.

Counties need to coordinate emergency information communications with those who are cut off from traditional electronic based communications.  Municipalities should be able to mobilize teams who can canvass those areas left without electricity and communicate to residents the status of the outage and any advisories and information regarding of that outage.

Government, on all levels takes on many responsibilities these days.  From providing housing, dictating education cirriculums, monitoring our eating habbits, to regualting whether we can put a fence up in our yard.  Whether any or all of that iswarranted is arguable.   But the one government responsibility that is not arguable is the one to keep its citizens informed and safe.  And that is the one responsibility which government failed to properly live up to in regards to the handling of the power outages folowing Hurricane Irene.

This shortcoming is one which needs to be addressed.  In addition to heavy winds, torrential rains and billions of dollars in damage, Hurricane also provided us with a lesson.  Now it is up to government to prove that they learend the lesson.

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New Jersey Hurricane Irene and Preparedness Update

Bookmark and Share   While the exact projected track of a hurricane can never be predicted, the general track can and at this point in time, expert consensus projects Hurricane Irene to be on a track that takes it right up the East Coast.  In the forecast model below, the eye of the hurricane directly passes over Monmouth and Ocean counties around 9:00 pm Sunday evening.  It also projects that maximum sustained winds around the eye may be as high as 93 or 94 mph.

Cick here to play a frame by frame animation of the storms projected track

Before and after the eye storm passes over, Hurricane Irene will be wreaking havoc. 

While tropical systems of this sort often pick up speed and move through our area relatively quickly, right now Hurricane Irene is expected to be a slow mover.  This means that devastating winds and bands and pockets of torrential rains will be hammering the area for hours before and after the eye passes over  or near New Jersey ort portions of the state such as Monmouth and Ocean counties. 

Compunding the problem will be the heavy rains that the area has already experienced in the days before Irene.  Those hevy rains have already soaked the area and will only make it harder for the ground to better absorb the heavy rains of Irene.

But the most damaging affects of Hurricane Irene will be its tidal surge.  Bays such as Raritan will be seeing a steady flow of wind driven waves fill their basins with abnormally heavy volumes of water.  As a result, extremely high tides will bring water further inland and create dangerous flood conditions.   Adding to the problem will be extra high tides that will be in place becuase of this weekends full moon.

The state Office of Emergency Management says if Hurricane Irene maintains both its projected track and strength,  evacuations of communities along the Jersey shore due to tidal and storm surge flooding, will be be likely.

Shore residents should make sure emergency supply kits for their home and cars are fully stocked.  New Jersey residents should also  have a plan in place in case of an evacuation order and should stay informed about the threat from the storm.

When local, county or State officials order you to evacuate , they will provide specific information about the roads you should take. Police and first responders will be posted in your community to direct traffic and block roads that are unsafe.

In the meantime, you can a view a county-by-county  run down on the evacuation routes nearest you.  It is important to remember this though.  Do not wait to evacuate at the last minute.  New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the nation.  That means that with such a heavy concentration of people in such a relatively small space we are prone to traffic jams and you do not want to be fleeing for safety in a ten mile back up on the Garden State Parkway or any of the established evacuation routes.

The Maps:

New Jersey Coastal Evacuation Maps
   
New Jersey Storm Surge Maps

Hurricane Irene is not something to be taken likely and while some may be feeling that all this discussion about it, is simply increasing anxiety.  None of this is meant to inspire fear or to exaggerate the effects of the storm.  It is simply meant as a means for you to prepare for the worst, if it should become possible.  Currently the worst effects of this storm are very possible and those in its possible path need to be aware of the dangers and do their best to stay informed about its developments and be prepared to take the measures that will help you avoid the worst.

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