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Westfield Mayor Issues Update on Hurricane Sandy Preparations

The Police, Fire and Public Works Departments have readied their personnel, their vehicles and their apparatus and are prepared, says Skibitsky.

The following message from Westfield Mayor Andy Skibitsky was issued at 7:45 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28: 

The Town continues to monitor the path of Hurricane Sandy. I have just concluded a meeting with the Town Council, State Assemblyman Bramnick, and the Town’s professional staff who are essential to seeing this town through Hurricane Sandy, including police, fire and public works. As we are beginning to feel the effects of the approaching storm, I want to reassure residents that the Town has all its resources mobilized to address any storm-related emergencies that may arise. The Police, Fire and Public Works Departments have readied their personnel, their vehicles and their apparatus and are prepared. The Town’s Office of Emergency Management Coordinator is in contact 24/7 with other emergency response agencies at every level of government. I have been assured that PSE&G has all its personnel ready to respond should the storm result in any power outages. New Jersey American Water Co. is also standing by with extra personnel.

Should an emergency arise, immediately call 9-1-1. For non-emergencies, call 789-4130 to reach the Fire Department or 789-4000 to reach the Police Department. PSE&G advises to call 1-800-436-PSEG (7734) to report a power outage.

Rain and winds are expected to begin later tonight, increasing in intensity throughout the night. The full brunt of the storm is not expected to arrive until Monday afternoon, October 29. The challenge of this storm in particular, in addition to tropical storm force winds and high rainfall totals, will be its duration.  It is not expected to move away until early Wednesday morning. Such conditions may lead to prolonged power outages because utility crews cannot respond until the dangerous weather conditions subside. However, on a better note, since Hurricane Irene and the October 2011 snowstorm, PSE&G has assured me that they have made significant investments in its delivery system designed to help withstand severe storms, including replacing older lower voltage lines with higher capacity lines that can better withstand wind and rain, spending millions of dollars pruning trees away from power lines; tightening coordination with county Offices of Emergency Management to improve communication with local officials and provide the latest information on outages and restoration progress, and improving their automated call answering system so customers can be better connected.

I have received several inquiries about evacuations and shelters. Because Westfield is not situated in a coastal flood zone and does not have a river running through it, it is not affected by the evacuation mandates that apply to coastal communities and those communities with rivers known to overflow their banks. Although there may be pockets of localized street flooding should the storm sewers become temporarily overcharged, we do not anticipate the necessity for a mass evacuation. According to Governor Christie, shelters are a place of last resort for a group of evacuees who have no other place to go. The best place for Westfield residents to be throughout the storm is in their own home. Should anyone experience an emergency that results in their home becoming inhabitable, our police and fire personnel will work with the Red Cross chapter in Westfield to assist the affected residents with sheltering.

I am sure that by now, just as the Town has been preparing for the storm, most Westfield residents have made the necessary preparations for their homes and families. It is now time to stay home and stay safe. Governor Christie has declared a State of Emergency and asks that all residents stay off the roads as much as possible as downed wires, falling trees, flying debris and flooding may put your life at risk. Do not go outdoors during the storm. Do not go near ponding or moving water. If you observe any downed wires, assume they are live and stay far away. Be very careful if you need to use candles. The Police Department has activated the Westfield radio station, AM 1690 on your dial. For additional information and helpful guidance, please refer to the list of websites on our homepage under "Hurricane Sandy Information Center" and follow us on Twitter (https://twitter.com/TownOfWestfield.) 

Please note that the municipal building offices will be closed on Monday, October 29. Of course, emergency services personnel will be on duty. Again, should an emergency arise, immediately call 9-1-1. For non-emergencies, call 789-4130 to reach the Fire Department or 789-4000 to reach the Police Department.
Again, stay home and stay safe.

Thank you. 

Mayor Skitibsky

Boulevard October 29, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Saw this posted ob NJ.com Website from another Westfielder. "I purposely DID NOT rake my leaves into the street this week/end. My common sense told me that doing so would potentially lead to clogged sewer drains. But plenty of my neighbors did. How does this make sense? I thought that maybe the DPW was planning on doing a leaf cleanup prior to the storm? That ended up not being the case. I hope I am wrong, but something tells me a lot of the local flooding that might occur will be due to the fact that ignorant people put leaves into the street which lead to buildup of debris at the drains, and curbside blockage of drainage for sump pumps! Why didn't our local government monitor this? Good luck everybody !"
Rusty Cut October 29, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Boulevard, you are spot on...except about the government part. Can't rely on the government to provide commonsense...homeowners need to think. Raking leaves into the street is not a good idea before a storm like this.
Mitch Slater October 29, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Westfield Public Schools will be closed tomorrow Tuesday 10/30
Elizabeth Alterman October 29, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Thanks, Mitch.
Rich Mattessich October 29, 2012 at 05:18 PM
To The Mayor and Town Council – Thank you for proactively reaching out to the Board of Education over the weekend to check on the status of the schools and to understand how we can all help each other through this. Your concern for the District and all of our students and staff is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance to all the men and women who will be keeping us safe throughout and cleaning up in the aftermath. Rich Mattessich President, Westfield Board of Education

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