Ocean County Press Release
Be Prepared

TOMS RIVER – Ocean County Emergency Management officials are urging residents to be prepared as a new hurricane and summer storm season gets underway.

With Irene still fresh in our minds, officials say that being prepared was key in making certain citizens, and visitors were well protected from dangers posed by the August 2011 storm.

"Irene brought specific attention to the danger of hurricanes along with the safety precautions that should be taken before and during a hurricane," said Ocean County Sheriff William L. Polhemus, who leads the Ocean County Office of Emergency Management. "Since Ocean County is a coastal area that is especially threatened by flooding and tropical storms, the best way to handle these situations is by being prepared."

The hurricane season officially begins June 1 and lasts until the end of November. The height of the season typically occurs in late August and during the month of September although tropical systems have already been developing off the Atlantic Coast.

As part of helping citizens prepare Ocean County has been providing helpful tips that should be reviewed an put in place now.

"Waiting for a weather event to happen is not the time to think about what to do," said Lt. Keith Klements, Deputy Coordinator of the Ocean County Office of Emergency Management. "I strongly suggest our residents and visitors go to our website which can be accessed from the Ocean County Homepage at www.co.ocean.nj.us and click on ‘Be Prepared,' the information is invaluable."

Annual preparations for the hurricane season include creating or updating a disaster supply kit. The kit should include a gallon of drinking water a day for each person and a battery-powered radio, which could become the sole source of information during an emergency.

In the event of a hurricane, the National Weather Service can usually provide up to five days of advanced warning, however being prepared could save a life.

"It is so important for every Ocean County resident and visitor to know how to handle these emergency situations," said Ocean County Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little. "Since our population grows dramatically in the summer time, special emphasis should be placed on the proper course of action during a hurricane to minimize any problems that can occur."

Officials urge residents to stay alert for and follow all directions they broadcast. Radio stations including WOBM 92.7-FM, WOBM 1160-AM, WJRZ 100.1 FM, WYRS 90.7 FM, WBBO 106.3, and WWYZ 107.1 FM all provide information on Ocean County.

In the event of an evacuation, like that which occurred during Hurricane Irene, it is recommended that essential items be brought along including prescription drugs and any special dietary foods.

If transportation is a problem, plan with neighbors beforehand to ensure assistance will be available. If needed, evacuation assistance can be obtained from the local municipal office of Emergency Management or the Ocean County Sheriff's Department, Office of Emergency Management.

Registration with the local police department is available ahead of time for Ocean County's "We Care" program.

"If you or a loved one needs special assistance during any evacuation such as the bed bound, sight or hearing impaired, wheelchair capable, dialysis, oxygen dependent or other challenges, the "We Care" program can assist," said Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, Chairman of the Ocean County Office of Senior Services.

"We advise all residents not to wait for an official or law enforcement officer to personally notify you to evacuate. It is best to give yourself enough time to make it out safely," said Ocean County Sheriff's Department Chief Michael Osborn. "Staying at home could put yourself and your family at risk of getting trapped, making it more difficult for rescuers to reach you."

Osborn also emphasized using the Be Prepared website for helpful information that covers, before, during and after a storm.

"Residents can get up to the minute updates on emergencies in the county before, during and after a storm," he said. "This site was created to help prepare our residents and visitors in case of an emergency and to provide up to the minute information should there be one."

Advisories to stay alert for are a "hurricane watch" and a "hurricane warning." A hurricane watch is issued when hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within the next thirty-six hours. A hurricane warning is then announced when conditions are expected within the warning area, usually within the next twenty-four hours.

Serious storms may require a mandatory or voluntary evacuation. Officials will not order an evacuation unless it is absolutely necessary.

"We recommend residents and visitors become familiar with the telephone numbers for their municipality's Office of Emergency Management," Klements said. "Good information and correct information is imperative when it comes to weather emergencies."

Local emergency management offices can provide information such as which evacuation route to take, where public shelters are located, which ones accept animals.
Emergency management officials caution visitors and residents from venturing outside during a hurricane.
Blowing debris can cause serious injury and traveling is highly discouraged.

It is also recommended that people remain sheltered after a hurricane until an announcement has been made that it is safe to leave.

"We also discourage use of a telephone unless it is an emergency, in order to keep phone lines free; stay out of disaster areas; avoid driving, especially on unstable roadways; and check buildings for damage before reentering," Osborn said. "Also do not call 911 unless it is an emergency. It's important those lines stay open for emergencies."

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