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Saddle Brook 'Status Quo' With Sandy

Saddle Brook officials have been preparing for the storm much like they did last year for Hurricane Irene.

Saddle Brook officials have been discussing how best to deal with Hurricane Sandy since last week when they first learned the storm might blow through town.

Emergency Management Coordinator John Tuohy said operations will run much like they did last year during Hurricane Irene, when 134 residents had to be evacuated from their homes.

"Irene actually went very smooth last year, so pretty much everything is status quo," said Tuohy, who will set up shop during the storm in a 24-hour emergency operations center located in the police department building.

"Unfortunately we've been through this," municipal clerk Pete LoDico added. "So it's not like it's new."

Storm preparations

In an effort to lessen the impact of flooding from Sandy, Saddle Brook Department of Public Works employees spent the week removing debris from catch basins and drainage areas, and taking leaves off the streets in areas prone to flooding.

The library, which took water damage during Irene, has been sandbagged by both the front and back doors this year as an additional precaution.

Sandbags have also been placed around St. Philip The Apostle Church on Saddle River Road, which has been devastated in past floods, LoDico said.

Flood-prone residents who need sandbags for their homes can pick up bags and sand beginning Sunday at noon at St. Philip's. Residents must bring their own shovel to fill the bags and are limited to 10 bags per household. The sand pile is located in the church's rear parking lot on the north side of the property.

Staying informed

Saddle Brook sent out a Reverse 911 call to residents Saturday evening, following a department head meeting in the afternoon. The message urged residents to begin preparing for the potential impact of Hurricane Sandy, recommending that residents in flood-prone areas prepare to move their belongings, including vehicles, to higher ground. 

Residents who need to move their vehicles from low-lying areas may bring them to the parking garage at Park 80 West Plaza, located at the intersection of Pehle Avenue and N. Midland Avenue.

To stay abreast of the latest information about the storm, residents can tune to SBC-TV (Channel 77 on Cablevision, Channel 38 on Verizon FiOs), subscribe to local NIXLE alerts or monitor the township website.

Evacuation plan

If conditions deteriorate and residents need to be evacuated at some point during the storm, officials will put out a Reverse 911 call to alert residents.

Tuohy said last year once one resident called into the EOC in need of an evacuation, he made the decision to initiate evacuations from all of the flood-prone areas. While 134 residents needed to be evacuated in all -- often because residents chose not to leave their homes despite warnings -- Tuohy said the process worked well during Irene.

Thesenior center will be used as the primary shelter for residents who need to evacuate their homes. If for some reason the senior center becomes impassable from a resident's house or it becomes full, additional evacuees will be diverted to either Long or Smith schools, LoDico said. The nearest super shelter, located at Bergen Community College in Paramus, is also an option.

Residents with flood-related problems should call 201-843-7000 to reach an emergency operations center dispatcher. In case of a life-threatening emergency, call 911.

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