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September 2, 2011

Re:       Lessons Learned from Hurricane Irene – Next Steps Moving Forward

Dear Mayor:

As President of the League of Municipalities I would like to compliment you, your fellow elected officials, emergency management fire, rescue and EMS personnel and volunteers, and professional staff in dealing with last week’s hurricane.  We would also like to acknowledge the excellent efforts by Governor Christie, his administration, and in particular Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, State Police Superintendent Rick Fuentes, Military and Veteran Affairs Adjutant General Major General Glenn Rieth, Homeland Security and Preparedness Director Charles McKenna, Board of Public Utilities President Lee Solomon, Department of Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson, Department of Environmental Protection Director Bob Martin and New Jersey Transit Executive Director James Weinstein for their extraordinary efforts in dealing with this emergency.  We would like to acknowledge William L. Vogel, Federal Coordinating Officer for FEMA who has been extremely helpful and hands-on in working with our State and Local Officials.

While the storm has passed there is still a lot of work to be done in this clean up and restoration period.  The League will continue to keep you updated through our daily advisory and timely alerts found on our homepage, www.njslom.com, in the Hurricane Irene Information Center.   

We were pleased that President Obama issued a Presidential Disaster Declaration for funding. While the initial Declaration only includes five counties,  we have learned that the five counties listed in the declaration are not the only counties that Homeland Security and Preparedness expects to be included for FEMA funding.  Those counties were used because the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) wanted to meet the threshold for a major disaster declaration.  Now that the President declared those five counties to be disaster areas, additional counties can be added without having to go to the President.  FEMA Region II in conjunction with the Federal Coordinating Officer can add counties that meet the disaster threshold.  OEM along with FEMA is doing Preliminary Damage Assessments (PDA's) and counties will be added if they meet the damage thresholds for inclusion into the declaration.

The League staff, in conjunction with Hope Township Mayor McDonough, chair of the League’s Emergency Management Preparedness Task Force, has been in constant contact with Lee Solomon and other members of the administration in communicating concerns that Mayors across the state have expressed to us over the inadequate response of some of the utilities in dealing with this emergency.  We have also called upon the Board of Public Utilities to conduct a through review of the numerous concerns expressed by Mayors and to hold public hearings to develop a viable response plan for future emergencies. 

The League Emergency Management Preparedness Task Force will be meeting shortly with the State Police Superintendent Rick Fuentes and other representatives of the State’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and Preparedness to discuss further how we can be better prepare in dealing with future emergencies.

Also, the League’s Education Foundation has scheduled an Emergency Management: Utilities and Shore Communities seminar on September 13, 2011 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Atlantic County Office of Emergency Preparedness.  This event will educate New Jersey shore communities most affected by weather emergencies on the resources available to them from the utilities that service them including electric, phone, water, and cable.  The utilities will share and discuss their emergency planning, communication procedures, and provide contact information for cohesive coordination during weather emergencies. The afternoon will be dedicated to nuclear utility responses and related community coordination.  If you have not done so already you can register for the event at http://www.njlmef.org/Emergency-Management091311.html.   In addition, at the annual conference we will be holding the following sessions of interest:

  • Crisis Communication at 3:45 p.m. on November 15th
  • Repetitive Flooding at 9:00 a.m. on November 16th
  • Solving Problems with Utilities at 10:45 a.m. on November 17th

For more information on these sessions and the 96th Annual conference please visit our website at http://www.njslom.com/96thconf/index.html.

It is extremely important that we hear from you on what additional steps we can take to assistance you in meeting the needs of your citizens.  I would request that you communicate those concerns to Bill Dressel, League’s Executive Director, at 609-695-3481 x122 or by e-mail at bdressel@njslom.com.

Very truly yours,

Chuck Chiarello
Mayor, Buena Vista
President

 

 

 

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