Hurricane Sandy is not expected to make landfall until Monday, but it could hit New Jersey as early as late Sunday night. If you are lucky enough to have the means to prepare in advance, emergency management officials recommend that you do what it takes as soon as you can to get ready before the storm arrives.
The first thing, officials say, is to have an emergency preparedness kit on hand. A few easily obtainable items (for most people) can make all the difference in the aftermath of a severe storm.
- Water: at least a three-day supply, one gallon per day per person. (Utility company Jersey Central Power and Light warns that outages could go as long as a week or more, so you can't go wrong with stocking up for the worst-case scenario, just in case.)
- Food: Nonperishable, at least a three-day supply.
- Can opener
- Radio: Battery-powered or, better yet, a hand-cranked emergency radio. Also consider purchasing a NOAA weather radio.
- Extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Face mask: to help filter dust and debris.
- Moist towelettes
- Garbage bags
- Plastic ties
- Local maps
Families should consider what is unique to their situation and adjust their kits accordingly. Do you have pets? A baby still on formula? Anyone in the family taking medication? Make sure to plan for that and add the necessary items to your kit.
Supermarkets and department stores around Parsippany and Morris Plains are abuzz with activity and long lines of people finding nearly empty shelves. If you need items such as bottled water, diapers or batteries and have the means to obtain them, you should do so as soon as possible.
Another storm prep tip: If you have the ability to do so, fill your gas tank. Filling stations in the township are also dealing with long lines, so the earlier you go to fill up, the better off you will be.
And while you are out, it is recommended that you grab some extra cash if you can. If power goes out for an extended period of time, you do not want to be caught during an emergency situation without money.
Some people use sandbags to help ward off potential flood waters during heavy rain storms. In an effort to assist with pre-storm preparation, Parsippany Police are making sand bags, sand and shovels available to township residents at the parking lot at the corner of Lake Shore Drive and Rockaway Boulevard in Lake Hiawatha, across the street from the Lake Hiawatha Swim Club.
"We will be continuing to distribute it until 9 p.m. and will restart [Sunday] morning as soon as the sun comes up," said Parsippany Police Chief Anthony DeZenzo. "We have distributed more than 5,000 sandbags so far and supplies of bags are running low. If you plan on coming down to get sand, bring some garbage bags, [zippered plastic] bags, buckets or anything else that you can carry sand in just in case we do run out of bags. We will continue to distribute sand even after we run out of bags."
Sand bags are being made available in Morris Township as well.
Another way to prevent flooding: Be sure to clear out storm drains and gutters along your street. Check on elderly neighbors and people who live by themselves to make sure they are okay and have what they need and that their drains and gutters are clear.
In an address early Saturday, Gov. Chris Christie, while declaring New Jersey to be in a state of emergency, spoke of the importance of people helping each other during a crisis. Hurricane Sandy could end up being just the sort of crisis that calls on people to be helpful neighbors.
Visit Ready.nj.gov for more tips on how to get ready for the storm.