As one of the worst storms in decades gathers momentum in its drive up the East Coast, Salisbury Township officials have been coordinating their emergency plans to handle Hurricane Sandy.
Salisbury Township Police Chief Allen Stiles said township officials expect to have their Emergency Operations Center at the police department open sometime between noon and 6 p.m. on Monday.
Stiles, who met with his patrol supervisors to set their "pre-plan" in motion, said additional police patrols and shift overlaps are planned throughout the weather emergency.
Stiles, Township Manager Randy Soriano, Public Works Director John Andreas, Emergency Management Director Jeff Tapler met to coordinate their plans on Friday and will continue to confer with each other.
Stiles met with Lehigh Valley Hospital emergency management personnel and participated in a conference call with county and municipal emergency management and medical facilities from the five-county region.
"We will be working closely with Lehigh County Emergency Management, township Emergency Management, township Public Works, fire crews, EMS and Lehigh Valley Health Network to provide for the safety and emergency needs of our citizens and all who pass through Salisbury Township. We will be continuously updating and adjusting our action plan based upon the changing information available," Stiles wrote in an e-mail to Patch.
Soriano said they are expecting "the worst" from Hurricane Sandy.
A primary concern is that gale force winds will down trees and cut off electricity to homes, as happened durinng Hurricane Irene and last October's freak snow storm.
"Road flooding will follow if the storm hangs around. Our fire department will no doubt be assisting with flooding issues, basements, etc..," Soriano said.
"I think the level of awareness is much greater this year and of course we have last year’s storm to thank for raising preparedness for this one," he said.
Soriano said they are planning to provide additional bottled water before and during the storm for police, public works, fire personnel and township staff in case the EOC is operational and there is a need to bunker down for the storm.
The public works department is mobilizing to clear out debris from suspect catch drains and to anticipate road closures at the usual spots that are prone to flooding, such as Keystone Road and Lehigh Street, Soriano said.
"In the event that there is snow in the mix we have adequate salt supply and public works department will be ready to tackle snow," Soriano said.
If Hurricane Sandy becomes a major disaster, Lehigh County and local municipalities are prepared to perform damage assessments of properties in order to qualify for federal assistance, Soriano said.
"Of course, we encourage residents to assemble preparedness kits. The Red Cross has many good tips to prepare. It helps if everyone contributes, because as we often find out, there are never too many resources available during these disasters. We will do our best with what we have. Hopefully we may be overprepared this time and an act of God will spare us," Soriano said in his e-mail to Patch.
In Lehigh County, emergency management officials are checking on personnel, equipment and vehicles in preparation and keeping abreast of the storm's track.
"There's so much variable in this storm," said Tom Nervine, director of Lehigh County's Emergency Services.
Most importantly, he said, "We are concerned that people take this seriously...They have to be ready for it."