Legislation sponsored by Senator Robert Singer to improve storm preparedness and mitigate the damage done by severe events, like Superstorm Sandy, was advanced by the Senate Law & Public Safety Committee.
“Sandy was something that, sadly, we weren’t prepared for, and people in our shore communities are still trying to get things back to normal more than four years later,” Senator Singer said. “However, we’ve spent that time learning from our mistakes and finding ways to ensure we aren’t caught off guard by another superstorm. This bill has the potential to protect vulnerable communities from the kind of damage we saw in the aftermath of Sandy.”
The legislation, S-2538, directs the State Office of Emergency Management to establish a county storm preparedness program to protect against the dangers associated with hurricanes, nor’easters and other severe storms. The OEM will work with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to conduct a risk assessment of each county’s vulnerability to damage caused by severe weather conditions every two years.
The risk reports will offer an in-depth view of the recent history of severe weather in each of the state’s 21 counties, as well as the potential damage they could sustain in any future storm. Information such as how many times all or a portion of the county has been declared a federal disaster area in the last 10 years and how many residents live within a flood zone will be included in the risk assessment.
The bill also authorizes the director of the OEM to provide funding to county emergency management offices in amounts proportionate to each county’s risk assessment. The money could only be used for emergency equipment, flood mitigation services and other means of improving the county’s storm preparedness.
“This will give us an opportunity to craft storm plans that can be tailor-made for each county and their unique situations,” Senator Singer said. “We’ll be able to update them when the new assessments are done every two years and ensure our communities won’t be caught flat footed by another storm.”
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