UPDATE: 12:10 p.m., Oct. 26
PSE&G yesterday issued an announcement on its storm preparations in the Camden County service region last night.
"Clearly, a storm like Hurricane Sandy has the potential to interrupt service," read an emergency alert statement issued to PSE&G customers yesterday. "High winds might cause trees to brush up against power lines, and lightning could strike and damage trees or pole-top equipment. There also is the potential for trees to be uprooted."
The utility also reminded customers that the best way to report downed wires or power outages is to call PSE&G's automated customer service line at 1-800-436-PSEG.
"Customers who get an automated response when calling PSE&G are encouraged to use it, as it is designed to route their calls to the right destination quickly," the statement read. "The system also provides the option to speak directly to a customer service representative. If you have specific information regarding damage to wires, transformers or poles, we ask that you speak with a representative to provide that information."
Want to use your smartphone to report an outage? Log into "My Account" at pseg.com. The utility reports general outage activity online during severe weather, and updates its Twitter page in realtime throughout storms.
Also, the utility encourages everyone to pack an emergency preparedness kit containing:
- Cell phone
- Battery-powered radio or television
- Non-electric alarm clock
- Bottled water and nonperishable food
- Manual can opener
- Extension cords (for partial outages)
- First aid kit
- 12-inch adjustable wrench
Camden County offered the following announcement regarding its emergency readiness for the upcoming storm warning.
The Camden County Department of Public Works and Office of Emergency Management (OEM) are closely monitoring forecasts from the National Weather Service in Mt. Holly. The latest forecast lists the potential for heavy rainfall, high winds and flooding from Sunday to Tuesday, depending on the track of the storm.
The Camden County Department of Public Works stands ready to address any road hazards associated with the storm, such as downed trees or blocked drainage inlets.
“If flooding occurs in our area, never drive your vehicle into areas where water covers the roadway,” said Freeholder Ian Leonard, liaison to the Camden County Department of Public Works. “Flood waters are usually deeper than they appear. Just one foot of flowing water is powerful enough to sweep vehicles off the road.”
The Camden County OEM has conducted two storm preparation planning meetings so far this week, and has mobilized shelter materials. Beginning tomorrow, the EOM will be operating under a partial activation. The volunteer Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and Community Animal Response Team (CART) have also been put on notice.
“When the EOC is activated to coordinate county-wide response, annex managers representing each area of response and recovery report to the center in Lindenwold,” Leonard said. “The annex managers track and deploy assets in the field based upon the requests received. Pre-plans are in place for the distribution of items such as food, water, medical supplies and cots for temporary housing. The plan is regularly exercised and includes the efforts of municipal coordinators in each town.”
The EOM is responsible for coordinating activities that mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. The Camden County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is activated during a hurricane, or other major events, when the emergency response capabilities of the municipalities have been exhausted, or when the event is of concern to the entire county.
The Camden County OEM maintains the county’s emergency notification system that keeps residents informed of important information during major incidents.
“If you haven’t done so already, we invite you to visit the Camden County website and enter the method you would like to be contacted during an emergency,” Leonard said. “You may provide as many means of contact as you wish, so that we can connect with you in multiple ways.”
The information provided to the system by residents will remain confidential, and in the custody of the Camden County OEM. For regional consistency, the same system is utilized by our surrounding counties and can be accessed over the internet.
During EOC activations, ETEAM software is used to communicate situational awareness between county, municipal and state agencies. Messages are updated regularly to keep all levels of responders informed of recent developments.
Volunteer RACES ham radio operators are able to provide backup communications in the event that normal methods of communication become inoperable. RACES stands for "Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service," a protocol created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission.
The OEM is responsible for maintaining and enforcing the New Jersey State Disaster Laws. The state law requires every municipality to have a state approved Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) and to appoint a Coordinator. The Emergency Management Office assists the 37 county municipalities in developing their EOPs and keeping them current. Local road closures and detours due to flooding are the responsibility of municipal law enforcement officials.