The needler in the haystack.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane poses unique dangers for Plainfield

This minivan was crushed by a falling tree on West 8th Street in 2000 storm.
Hurricane Irene poses unique threats for Plainfield and its residents and businesses, with flooding perhaps secondary to damage from uprooted trees and falling branches.

Plainfield Councilor Adrian Mapp shared with a group of Plainfield residents on Thursday evening that the city was taking Hurricane Irene seriously, according to a conversation he had with Public Safety Director Martin Hellwig.

Mapp reported Hellwig said plans are in place to make Plainfield Police HQ the center of emergency operations and that special equipment was in readiness in case of flooding situations. Mapp also said that Hellwig told him that flyers were prepared for residents of flood-prone areas advising of precautions they should take. The flyers are supposed to be distributed in advance of the storm, and Hellwig also said that information pertinent to Plainfield would be posted on the city's website (see here); as of this writing there is only a generic paragraph from FEMA with some links on the city's home page. UPDATE: As of 7:07 PM Friday, the official Plainfield website carries detailed information, including addresses of shelters ('Welcome Centers') for use on Sunday if needed.

DPW map gives general indication of Plainfield's flood-prone areas.

While a large number of homes and some businesses are subject to potential flooding, depending on the intensity and length of the hurricane as it passes through the area, Plainfield is more likely to suffer from a unique problem -- fallen trees and branches.

With a large proportion of older, fully-grown trees in the city's residential neighborhoods, Plainfield is vulnerable to being virtually shut down -- as it was in 2000, when more than 125 trees were downed during a storm.

Uprooted tree fell on home at Stelle and Grant Avenues in 2000 storm.

Plainfield's DPW was so overwhelmed, other towns such as Rahway lent a hand in cleanup.
Cars were crushed, trees fell onto homes and branches tore down power lines throughout the city, leaving streets impassable and residents without power -- some for days. Cleanup was so overwhelming that the public works departments of other communities (including Rahway, pictured) lent mutual aid to a beleaguered Plainield.

Utility crews from PSE&G will be primed for response to storm issues, but the question is whether Plainfield's emergency communications plan will give Plainfield officials a quick and accurate assessment of any damage, and the ability to prioritize recovery efforts in a rational manner.

We will see how it all unfolds.

But readers would be wise to heed official warnings, recheck their FAMILY EMERGENCY PLAN and hunker down for a rainy weekend.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

This is going to be a big nothing. Mark my words.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan,
Can you please post a note and ask the other bloggers to do the same for residents to check the storm drains near their homes. Many of them in the area are clogged with trash and leaves. I sent you an email last night but it never went through. I would rather have the rain down the drain than in the basement! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

One reason Plainfield has tree issues is because the residents do not take care of them. Of course 100 mPH winds are dangerous, but when you have a dead tree sitting on your property anyway, why be surprised.

Also, shouldn't Plainfield have an emergency plan that its citizens know about BEFORE we have to implement it.

olddoc said...

As of 4:15pm the city site is still void of local information. Perhaps our concern of the existence of a plan is correct.

Anonymous said...

We will have many more challenges from the DEAD trees along the streets of Plainfield than the 'mature' ones. Nothing was ever done after last year's drought and this year's 100+ days that stressed some of our trees to early leaf drop. Drive West 8th Street and cringe.

olddoc said...

7:30 PM Councilwoman williams posted a link to police dept which listed emergency shelters (3). City site still lacks even that info.