Strong winds, gusting around 50 miles per hour as of 11:30 a.m., are expected to reach hurricane force, or 75 miles per hour, around 3 p.m. and remain near that level for the next 12 hours, Fair Lawn Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator Wendy Demeraski said.
Demeraski, who will be overseeing Fair Lawn's 24-hour emergency operations center when it opens at noon, said that while rain is expected to come in bands and flooding remains a possibility, it's the hurricane force winds and the trees and power lines they may bring down that are likely to pose the greatest danger.
The borough has prepared for both high sustained winds and flooding, she said, but as of noon had yet to report any trees or power lines down.
In Saddle Brook, as of 12:30 p.m., strong winds had already split one tree on Seventh Street, between Outwater Lane and President Street. The road is closed while a Department of Public Works crew saws off the split branch. Saddle Brook DPW Supervisor Michael Calderone said that other than a tree down near the A&P on private property, Seventh Street is the only area in town where a large tree or branch has been reported down, as of 2:45 p.m.
Saddle Brook Emergency Management Director John Tuohy said the township's emergency responders are just waiting for the brunt of the storm to hit. The township's emergency operations center, which can be reached at (201)-843-7000, is operational as of Monday morning for residents who wish to report storm-related issues.
In Fair Lawn, employees of various Department of Public Works divisions will specialize in a particular functions during the storm, Demeraski said. Shade Tree will remain on alert for branches or trees that fall on buildings or homes, block roadways and take down power lines, while Water and Sewer employees will be handling issues related to water and borough pump stations.
Residents with storm-related issues -- trees or branches down, power out -- should call the emergency operations center at 201-794-5343. Starting at noon, a handful of Community Emergency Response Team volunteers will man the EOC around the clock, taking calls from residents and compiling information to relay to folks on the ground who can provide assistance.
"We’re just preparing for the worst, hoping for the best," said Demeraski, who advised residents to heed the phone alerts the borough has been sending out. "Heed the warnings, take them seriously and we’re going to get through this."