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Verona Reviews Lessons Learned from Hurricane Sandy

Verona Township is looking to past storms to better prepare for future emergencies.

Verona Township is looking back to Hurricane Sandy to see how it can improve its response to future emergency situations.

During the Verona Township Council's public meeting on Monday, Verona Director of the Office of Emergency Management Jeff Hayes presented the council with “lessons learned” from Sandy.

“After every storm with a lot of activity we conduct a lessons learned meeting so that we can better ourselves for the next storm,” said Hayes. “As we prepare for emergencies in the township we follow four major categories: mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.”

The township has brought in an outside consultant to review areas of the town which could be upgraded through the use of generators. The town is examining the community center, the town garage, pump stations and wells, the buildings and ground garage and schools as locations for backup generators.

To better prepare residents for disasters, the Verona Police Department will partner with police from Cedar Grove, Essex Fells and North Caldwell in hosting the Community College Citizen Preparedness Program. The program will be held The session will be held on January 23 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Verona Community Center, located at 880 Bloomfield Ave.

Communication is a key issue during an emergency, township officials said. Verona has several sources of communication through the Verona Television Network, township website and NIXLE. About 3,000 residents are subscribed to the NIXLE alert system but some residents do not have access to computers.

To ensure that all residents are informed, the Verona Police Department has mailed letters detailing what to do during an emergency, areas to go for help during a power failure and numbers to call for help.

“The letter went out to every residence, apartment and condo in town,” said Verona Chief of Police Douglas Huber.

The Office of Emergency Management is also compiling a list of people who may not be able to communicate through internet in addition to its list of residents with medical needs. The town will ensure that these residences are looked after during an emergency.

Hayes also presented the council with items to be included in the capital budget, many of which would come into play in emergencies. The presentation included $500,000 to be included for a replacement 911 platform.

Half the cost, or $250,000 would be split with Cedar Grove, which would also share the system.

The current 911 platform is more than 30 years old and needs to be replaced, said Hayes.

The presentation also included $120,000 for police server and network upgrades which includes the replacement of police car cameras.

“They have saved us in litigation fees a number of times so they are worth their value,” said Hayes.

Other items include:

  • Radio system- $120,000
  • Fiber optic outside plan-t $25,000
  • Town wide network- $135,000
  • Services for Township Departments- $220,000
  • Mobile Technology- $30,000
  • VTV video and Website platform relocation- $20,000
  • Total- $1,010,000

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