To the Editor,
By now, it appears that Westfield’s leaders are well on their way to bringing Westfield back to normal after Sandy. To better prepare the town for the next storm, I offer a few New Year’s resolutions for the Westfield’s public servants to implement.
1) Improve Communications: The Town of Westfield needs to be able to better communicate the next time a storm or another incident threatens. The town already subscribes to the “Honeywell Alert Plus” system, similar to what is used by the Westfield Schools and many Union County towns, which can contact residents by phone, email, or text via after a simple sign-up on a web page. The Alert Plus system should be fully implemented as soon as possible.
2) Prepare Adequate Resources: The Town of Westfield should prepare and publish a list of resources available to town residents in case of a disaster or major outage. The availability of shelters with heat and generator-provided electricity along with charging stations and other resources should be known to all residents in advance of the need.
3) Engage the community: Many towns in NJ have a publicized “Office of Emergency Management” or even a “Community Emergency Response Team” which coordinates volunteer emergency response when needed. At a minimum, Westfield should have an annual recorded public meeting to discuss emergency plans and to solicit suggestions regarding how to better prepare for the next outage.
4) Set appropriate expectations: In the corporate world, “service level agreements” (SLA’s) define contractual response with support services. Westfield or even the New Jersey state government should develop SLA’s with utility and communication providers in order to at least set a benchmark for service restoration. With the number of state leaders who live in or represent Westfield, the town’s leaders should have easy access to those who can make such SLA’s a state-wide priority.
Personally, I hope to hear soon how the town plans to improve emergency response, including dates when those plans will be implemented.