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Sandy Response Still Being Assessed in Watchung

Areas examined include improving communication and welfare checks of residents with special needs.

Watchung is continuing to work on improving its response and operations during emergencies.

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, Councilman Stephen Pote  a meeting of emergency responders, borough officials and school district officials in an “after action review" in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

The purpose of the meeting, Pote explained at Thursday’s borough council meeting, was to discover what went well during and after the storm and what improvements needed to be made.

“We learned from each other,” he said. “It was a good first step.”

The most important area of concern, he said, was formalizing a procedure to check on the welfare of residents with special needs during emergencies.

That includes residents with special medical needs that require electricity or the elderly.

For example, Mayor Gerald Mobus said, there were residents near the age of 90 who didn’t want to leave their homes after the storm though they did not have electricity or heat.

One of the ideas coming out of the meeting would be the creation of a neighborhood health watch where neighbors would check on the well-being of people in their neighbors, Pote said.

There are now 70 people on the rescue squad’s list of residents who have special needs.

Pote also said the borough may approach the school district about using Valley View School as an emergency shelter. A larger generator would be necessary at the school.

Other areas of concern are improving communications between police and residents, developing a set of emergency procedures, improving phone service at police headquarters and increasing the capacity of the generators at borough hall.

The results of the meeting will be forwarded to the committees created by Mobus after the storm to review the borough’s actions. The committees will then study the recommendations and implement policies and procedures.

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