If you walked or drove by Cooper River Saturday and thought the water line looked lower, you were right—and while dropping the river’s level and shutting the dam between it and the Delaware may have been one of the most visible signs of Camden County’s preparations for Hurricane Sandy, it wasn’t the only one.
County Public Works and Office of Emergency Management personnel have spent the better part of three days doing what they can ahead of the storm to try to lessen the hit, prepping equipment and clearing storm drains, among many other efforts.
“We are taking all precautions to limit the affects of the hurricane,” county spokesman Dan Keashen said.
Lowering the river and closing the dam are part of a move designed to mitigate some of the flooding along the river—South Park Drive regularly becomes part of the waterway in rough weather, and Keashen said hotspots like Cooper River are a focus.
The afternoon briefing Saturday from the National Weather Service (NWS) indicated the county could get upwards of four inches of rain from the storm, which is transitioning from a hurricane to a nor’easter. Wind gusts of 55 mph or more are also likely, the NWS briefing said.
The county’s preparing for a likely hit early Monday morning, and freeholder Ian Leonard, who is overseeing the response, said residents shouldn’t take the storm lightly.
“A storm of this magnitude demands all hands on deck, and we are fully prepared to combat a nasty, prolonged storm,” Leonard said in a release Saturday. “In an event like this, we are asking residents to stay off the roads and prepare for the worst.”
Leonard also asked residents to watch out for their neighbors during the worst of the storm Monday and Tuesday.
“It’s important for all of us during this storm event to check in on the elderly and check in on folks that maybe vulnerable,” he said. “We need to watch out for neighbors and help each other out during the hurricane.”
Some of the preventative measures the county’s tackled in the past three days include:
- Flushing out and cleaning thousands of inlets and storm water drains.
- Sweeping and cleaning 400 miles of county roadway to keep debris from clogging storm sewers.
- Oiling and checking the county’s chainsaws, in the event trees have to be cleared out following the storm.
- Gassing up the county’s fleet of vehicles and filling fuel reserves.
- Inspecting all dams throughout the county.
- Inspecting all the county’s culverts.
- Putting emergency contractors on call.
- Testing generators at critical county locations.