A virtual army of emergency responders is already moving into place, consuls from various countries have pledged to tend to dislplaced visiting nationals and police vow to arrest price gougers, no matter how extreme the weather, Bergen County officials told a mass conference call of mayors, police chiefs and other officials gathered by Executive Kathleen Donovan for a Friday afternoon Hurricane Irene briefing, CLIFFVIEW PILOT is reporting.
“This is going to be a long storm. Please recognize that,” Bergen County Emergency Management Coordinator Dwane Razzetti told the group. “At some point, the storm will be over but there could still be flooding and structure collapses.
“Water has moved houses,” he added. “So it can easily move a backhoe or object that can harm responders.”
Moments after the 20-minute session, county officials declared their own state of emergency, allowing the Red Cross to come in to provide relief, among other measures. This follows the New Jersey call by Gov. Christie.
Blankets and other supplies have already been stocked at Bergen Community College, Demarest High School, the Lyndhurst Senior Center and facilities in Rochelle Park, Mahwah and elsewhere that will be used as shelters, Razzetti said.
Bergen is also anticipating busloads of evacuated Jersey Shore residents at the Izod Center in the Meadowlands.
With its headquarters in Mahwah, waves of emergency responders and relief workers are at the ready, chain of command in place, from one end of Bergen to the other. These include expert scuba teams trained in “swift water” rescues, as well as representatives from the area utilities.
Razzetti said emergency operations will be in full force throughout the county by 8 a.m. Sunday.
As Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino noted, the resources are strategically spread out: If one emergency unit can’t get somewhere, another can. Both he and county Public Safety Director Brian Higgins said they have dozens of off-duty troops from their respective agencies on standby, and will help any department or municipality in need, no matter the request.
Fairview police have already sought mutual law enforcement aid, which both Saudino and Higgins said they will provide for them – as well as for anyone else who calls.
“We are a force multiplier,” Higgins told the mayors, police chiefs and other local officials during the late afternoon session. “No call is too small.”
Higgins also said his department has partnered with various consulates, so that “if any visiting national is injured, they will come here to help and free up our assets.”
All county parks will be closed. The animals at the Van Saun Park Zoo are also being taken to shelters, county officials said.
There are still several areas of major concern. READ MORE….