Statewide storm prep bill wins NJ Senate approval
New Jersey's ability to withstand Superstorm Sandy-sized weather events would be analyzed every two years, and county emergency management plans would adjust accordingly, if a shore-sponsored bill ends up with the Governor's signature.
State Senator Robert Singer (R-30) sponsors the bill that would direct state Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to create a county storm-prep program, and to conduct a bi-annual risk assessment in coordination with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
Co-sponsors based at the shore include Senators Joe Kyrillos (R-13), James Holzapfel (R-10) and Sam Thompson (R-12). It won full Senate approval today.
Democrat shore Assembly members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey (D-11) sponsor the lower house version, which cleared the Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee, and is now under review by the Appropriations Committee.
"We need to stay on our toes and constantly work to ensure we are ready for the next big storm," Singer said in prepared comments.
"This legislation will make it so our storm preparedness plans are constantly evolving. We'll be able to take a longer view and make sure we have the best practices in place as circumstances change and we gather new information."
Topics to be covered in the analysis would include recent severe weather events in each of the state's 21 counties, and areas of damage vulnerability during future storms. It would also delineate the number of times a county, or a portion of one, has been declared a federal disaster area in the past 10 years, and flood-zone populations.
Based on each county's risk evaluation, the measure would authorize OEM to fund county emergency management operations for hazard equipment, flood mitigation services and other storm-preparation steps.