Around 40 Hoboken residents attended the first of several workshops being held by the city Tuesday night meant to educate residents on how best to take care of themselves and each other should another Hurricane Sandy-type event occur. Another meeting was held Thursday.
While the beginning of the Tuesday meeting allowed Mayor Dawn Zimmer to update residents on the various grants and resiliency initiatives, the second half of the meeting was devoted to the “Hoboken Ready” initiative. The initiative is designed to help residents shelter themselves safely within their homes, without requiring too much outside assistance, so that emergency workers can focus on those most in need.
“We really believe that in an urban environment, people should be able to self-shelter,” said Zimmer at a press conference last week. “If they have the right things, they should be able to stay safe inside.”
What do you need?
Zimmer, Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Kenneth Ferrante, and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Leader Lou Casiano advocated forming a plan for the entire family, including safe places to meet and specific duties for each member of the household, as well as moving one’s car ahead of time and forming an evacuation plan.
In addition to some of the more obvious readiness items, like batteries and flashlights, Ferrante and Casiano discussed some less obvious things that everyone should have around, such as a battery-powered radio that also has a hand-crank for powering up electronics. Some of these radios have USB ports on them, to connect to a smartphone.
“I’d definitely be more prepared this time around when it comes to things like having cash, which was a problem, and dry food.” – Mary Tremitiedi
They also advocated keeping a deposit of cash in the house, because most ATMs are run on electricity, and even if one was working in the event of a storm, it would run out of cash quickly. Dust masks, manual can openers, and personal hygiene products were also discussed.
Ferrante and Casiano also discussed some of the things one should avoid in the event of a disaster, namely using gasoline stoves and generators inside.
“You might think you be able to get some light or heat out of them,” said Ferrante, “but the fact is that there’s a lot that can go wrong, including carbon monoxide poisoning.”
Residents speak out
Some residents, who said that they felt the city was less than communicative during Sandy and were concerned about their safety, left the meeting with more confidence in both their own and the city’s abilities to remain resilient in the event of a storm.
“After this meeting, I feel much better,” said Mary Tremitiedi, whose husband, Richard, the former fire chief, is on the CERT team. “I’d definitely be more prepared this time around when it comes to things like having cash, which was a problem, and dry food.”
However, Tremitiedi admitted that she lived in a high rise apartment and thus had fewer problems than other residents.
Minna Parker, who lives on the west side and incurred significant flooding, said she enjoyed the presentation, but hoped there would be more discussion about what specifically to do when flooding occurs.
“This was really informative as to what I should have around the house, and that’s important, but I think there’s got to be more meetings specifically for people who were flooded,” she said. “This is great, but there are different people in different situations and everyone needs to be addressed.”
The city is planning two more meetings, one of which is designed specifically for seniors. The meeting for senior citizens will take place Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 5 p.m., at the Multiservice Center, located at 124 Grand Street. The other meeting will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 2 at 601-603 Jackson St. at 7 p.m.
The ‘kit’ and other tips
The city’s “Hoboken Ready” kit, which is filled with things like water packets, duct tape, and batteries, was on display at the meeting on Tuesday and will soon be available for purchase at the Shop Rite of Hoboken, located on the corner of Ninth and Madison streets.
The kit contains, among other things, a flashlight, poncho, duct tape, water packets, and batteries. The kits will be on sale soon, said Zimmer. The city and ShopRite have not settled on a cost yet, but said the city will help every resident procure one, regardless of economic situation.
Ferrante and Casiano, each speaking after Zimmer, detailed some of the specific things that everyone should have, but also noted the importance of safety practices, such as avoiding walking through flood waters to avoid disease and to avoid open manhole covers that could cause serious injury or death. Additionally, they advocated making special plans in advance for pets and children.
For more information on the Hoboken Ready program, visit http://www.hobokennj.org/ready/.
Dean DeChiaro may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org