Legislation sponsored by Senator Robert Singer (R-Ocean) to improve storm preparedness and mitigate the damage done by severe weather events, like Superstorm Sandy, was passed by the New Jersey Senate.
“We need to stay on our toes and constantly work to ensure we are ready for the next big storm,” Senator Singer said. “This legislation will make it so our storm preparedness plans are constantly evolving. We’ll be able to take a longer view and make sure we have the best practices in place as circumstances change and we gather new information.”
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.
“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.”
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