by Union County Freeholder Chairman Linda Carter
Last year, the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy left many Union County residents with power outages, fallen trees, and damaged property. Intense storms like these have become more frequent, and while we hope that we will never experience another one like Sandy, the National Weather Service is forecasting an active hurricane season this year.
With that in mind, there are three ways in which you can help the Union County community to make it safely through the next storm.
One of the most important things you can do is to stay informed in the lead-up to an extreme weather event, and follow the guidance of local emergency officials. By being prepared, you enable first responders to focus more resources on life-threatening situations.
You will automatically receive warnings on your land line at home, through the reverse-911 system. To receive automatic alerts on your cell phone and other mobile devices, join the Union County First Alert system by signing up online at ucfirstalert.org.
When you receive an alert, be sure to follow up with more details by tuning in to your local news reports, on television or radio, in print, or on the Internet. You can also bookmark the home page of the Union County website, ucnj.org, where information and updates specific to Union County will be posted prominently.
Another way to help out is to keep informed on the proper use of home emergency equipment, specifically generators. In the aftermath of Sandy, a number of Union County residents were sickened by carbon monoxide poisoning from improperly used generators, and the response to these avoidable accidents drew emergency resources away from other efforts. If you are considering buying a generator, please follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and be sure to store fuel properly.
Lastly, if you are looking for ways to lend a hand during emergencies, I encourage you to join the Union County Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). This group of volunteers comes from all walks of life with a wide variety of skill sets including clerical and administrative experience. A medical background is not needed to join.
MRC is coordinated by professionals at the Union County Office of Health Management. Among other efforts, MRC volunteers were instrumental in providing safe, warm shelter to hundreds of evacuees at the Union County Regional Emergency Shelter in Cranford, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Over the past several years, we have learned to expect the unexpected when it comes to extreme weather events, having gone from the floods of Hurricane Irene to the October snowstorm of 2011, to the high winds of Sandy.
Each time, we have seen the Union County community rise to the occasion, and I have every confidence that we will meet the next challenge and make it safely through, together.
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