NJ DEP to Little Falls, Woodland Park: "Reverse 911 Needed for Floods"

a1_LOTITO_Pequannock_Flood_(Irene)_2011 164Image by Christopher Lotito via FlickrPoint #9 from Christie's 15 Point flood plan seems less a directive or project and more an opinion, essentially it states that areas prone to flash flooding (Woodland Park and Little Falls mentioned by name) could benefit from increased Red Cross disaster training and use of a reverse 911 system.

In Pequannock, the Flood Committee has been very successful getting out information about the flooding ahead of time, during, and after the disasters.  Here are a few notes on how we've done it:

  1. Inform your staff and officials.  -  Everyone needs to be on the same page.  In a 7.4sq mile township, council-members will get calls at home from residents about flooding, they as well as township staff and volunteers need to know what is going on, early and frequently.
  2. Have a great disaster team. - The hardest part of this is finding great people (we're really blessed with our staff in Pequannock).  The biggest tasks of the disaster team will be updating staff, fielding resident phone calls, and of course delegating actual relief and rescue tasks, all of which needs to be a coordinated effort.  They also need to do this while, as in our township, their own families are evacuating without them and their homes are being destroyed by the flood.
  3. Information Infrastructure - In Pequannock we have automated information numbers you can call, actual people you can call, actual people who will try to call you in an emergency, an amazing Pequannock Flood Info webpage which is updated obsessively by a paid staff member, reverse 911, and we are adding a block captain system as well.
  4. Coordinated Fire and Police Department efforts. - Again, this is as simple as people doing their jobs and as difficult as finding people who will perform with excellence.  People usually don't realize that talent retention is a disaster mitigation resource.  Pequannock has been very lucky in this regard.
  5. Lead by example. - I'm willing to say that there is not a one volunteer or staff member in our township who has kept to themselves.  I have never heard a case of anyone asking anyone else to do something they wouldn't do themselves.  On the contrary, each one of us has taken it upon ourselves to go above and beyond and contact our neighbors and phone lists on a daily basis to keep them updated.  In a disaster, leading by example is key.  There's simply no substitute.

Updates on this item from the NJ DEP Passaic River Flood Committee:

March 11, 2011
• NJOEM is taking lead.
August 4, 2011
• NJOEM has a plan to partner with County and Local officials to train residents on NJAlert and encouraging them to improve Communications Systems. Morris Co. is being encouraged to provide its residents with a Reverse 911 system.  This may be an add on to their NWS Storm Ready or SkyWarn pursuits.

Christopher Lotito is a member of the Pequannock EnvironmentalHistoric District, and Flood Control Advisory Commissions as well as the author of  "Torrent," a book about flooding in the region.  Lotito's personal mission is to reduce new taxes, drastically reduce flooding, and preserve more green spaces for our children.  Christopher Lotito Profile

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