The Westfield Leader - www.goleader.com September 17, 2003

By BENJAMIN CORBIN
The Westfield Leader and The Times

Local Authorities Prepare For Isabel Storm Possibility

From the time that hurricane Isabel was projected to be heading for the east coast, Union County officials have been preparing to assist the public in case of an emergency. The head of Union County Office of Emergency Management (OEM), Ben Laganga, has been following the category two hurricane closely, and he has been conferring with his staff.

Mr. Laganga told The Westfield Leader and The Scotch Plains-Fanwood Times that the county has been very active in preparing for the possibility of the hurricane hitting our area. The county OEM has met with the county planners and municipal emergency managers to discuss procedures. They communicate with the State Police and National Weather Service on a daily basis for information.

Mr. Laganga gave some tips for people to follow. Prepare in advance for a possible emergency. Have an ample supply of bottled water or water that has been put in containers before the hurricane hits. Have plenty of flash lights and batteries on hand in case the power goes out. Those taking medication should have all prescriptions filled so as not to run out. Because of the fire hazard, the public is advised not to use candles if the electricity fails.

Westfield Fire Chief John Castellano is the emergency manager for Westfield. He told the The Leader/Times that they are prepared and all the necessary equipment is ready. Other area managers who deal with all possible emergency situations are Howard Drewes for Fanwood, Paul Malool for Scotch Plains and Councilman Keith Turner for Mountainside, assisted by Mountainside Police Chief James Debbie.

Westfield Police Chief Bernard Tracey told The Leader/Times that the police are ready for “what ever comes our way.” If necessary, Westfield police will post emergency messages on TV36 using their emergency broadcast system. Chief Tracey said that the police also have a telephone system that can automatically call Westfield citizens to let them know what to do in case of emergency.

For additional information, websites of the towns and this newspaper can be consulted. These sites are goleader.com, westfieldnj.net, visitfanwood.com and scotchplainsnj.com.