By Lauren Wanko
High wind gusts, crashing waves, flooded streets. All painful reminders of Superstorm Sandy and what can happen during hurricane season.
“We can’t let our guards down. Everyone still needs to be prepared and they need to take it seriously because it only takes one event,” said Michael Oppegaard of Monmouth County OEM.
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season will likely be below-normal, with a 70 percent likelihood of six to 11 named storms, of which three to six could become hurricanes — including zero to two major hurricanes.
“By no means should we call it quiet. We could still have a busy season in terms of landfall. We don’t forecast on a seasonal basis where those storms will end up so it’s important that people prepare for an event should one of those storms threaten,” said NOAA Spokesman Chris Vaccaro.
“You know you used to fluff off certain things on it’s not gonna hit us. Don’t worry about it. But now after Superstorm Sandy, you gotta say to yourself, ‘This is something we have to look at and take seriously,'” said Atlantic Highlands Borough Administrator Adam Hubeny.
Hubeny is one of 100 local officials, police chiefs and emergency management coordinators at the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office “Leading through Crisis” seminar.
“It’s so important for our leaders to recognize that preparedness comes into play and then the operational infrastructure when they’re dealing with county, state and federal officials and also the mitigation afterwards when something occurs,” said Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden.
The two-day training seminar is being held in the county’s sheriff’s operations center.
“And this is where we communicate, coordinate and collaborate with the local officials so if a mayor needs a resource or a police chief needs a resource, fire chief/the resource comes into our operation center here and then we package them up and forward them to the state,” Golden said.
The Monmouth County Office of Emergency Management recommends have a family disaster plan — know where you’re going to go in the event of an emergency, prepare a disaster kit — three days worth of food and water and other essentials like medications — and stay informed about weather and storm alerts from local officials.
“Everyone needs to be prepared regardless of how busy or how in active the season’s predicted to be,” Oppegaard said.
“Certainly one of the most deadliest parts of a hurricane is storm surge. Storm surge is a surge of water that comes ashore as the center of the storm comes ashore,” Vaccaro said.
Which is why NOAA’s National Hurricane Center created a new prototype storm surge watch and warning graphic.
“The graphic will show areas that are prone to significant storm surge,” Vaccaro said.
The hurricane season lasts until Nov. 30.