Legislation supported by Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf, both of whom were prime sponsors, and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove to prohibit the towing of trailers, and transportation of boats on public highways, while an evacuation plan is in effect during an emergency has been signed into law by Governor Christie.
The legislative initiative (S-255/A-854) was based on one of the 14 recommendations made by the Coastal Assembly Evacuation Task Force which was established under legislation sponsored by the 9th District Delegation. Assemblyman Rumpf served as Vice Chairman of the Task Force and was instrumental in the development of the recommendations published in the Task Force’s final report issued to the Legislature in May 2008. The Task Force hearing for Ocean County was held in Long Beach Township at which time Assemblywoman Gove who, while serving as Mayor at the time, provided testimony on evacuation procedures related to Long Beach Island.
The 9th District Legislators offered the following remarks following the signing of S-255/A-854 into law:
“Following the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that ravaged the Southern United States, the 9th District Delegation strongly advocated for an evaluation of New Jersey’s evacuation procedures to ensure our state was sufficiently prepared for the worst. As coastal legislators whose District includes Long Beach Island, we understand the complexities and serious challenges that would be entailed with a large-scale evacuation. In the back of our minds was the storm of 1962 that hit Long Beach Island, which demonstrated that the Jersey Shore area could be hit by severe weather.
“As a result of testimony provided to the Assembly Evacuation Task Force by individuals with expertise in specific fields, a list of recommendations was compiled on how to improve our state’s evacuation plans. Certainly, prohibiting the towing of boats on any public highway during such an emergency is obviously a sensible precaution. A single boat attached to a disabled vehicle could cause havoc by blocking one or two lanes of traffic and thus seriously hampering emergency management evacuation efforts. Additionally, it would reduce traffic volume on coastal evacuation routes.”
Under the law, the towing of trailers would be authorized if ordered by the State Director of Emergency Management, a County Emergency Management Coordinator, or a Municipal Emergency Management Coordinator. This allows these emergency management coordinators flexibility in emergency situations if certain trailers need to be moved.
An offender may be charged with failure to obey signals, signs, or directions under emergency conditions with regard to the flow of vehicular traffic. If convicted, the offender is subject to a fine of up to $100, imprisonment for up to 10 days, or both.
Maps detailing evacuation routes for each county, as well as other critical information needed to prepare for an emergency, can be found on the website of the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management: http://www.nj.gov/njoem/.