Year After Irene's Fury, Madison Preps for Hurricanes

'We've always had drills, we've always reviewed plans ... Hurricane Irene was the first time we put it into play,' Office of Emergency Management coordinator Robert Landrigan said.

Madison's Local Emergency Planning Committee is getting ready for hurricane season, and this year officials will be better prepared than ever after and Hurricane Irene a year ago, Office of Emergency Management coordinator Bob Landrigan said.

Landrigan, also a member of the Borough Council and the Madison Volunteer Ambulance Corps, said officials learned how to improve radio communications and set up a shelter as they dealt with Irene—lessons they put into practice two months later when New Jersey was hit by a freak October snowstorm that felled trees and knocked out power.

Irene, which was downgraded to a tropical storm as it hit the area a year ago Monday, required major cleanup efforts and the borough has begun recouping some of the equipment and labor costs associated with cleaning up after the storm.

It expects to get $94,000 from the federal government for Irene costs, compared to $329,000 it expects to receive from the October storm, Landrigan said.

For Irene, Madison set up a shelter in an office building at Giralda Farms with cots from Morris County, Landrigan said. Afterward, officials realized it would be better to have a shelter toward the center of town that would be easier for residents to reach by foot, so for the October snowstorm they set up a shelter at the Madison Volunteer Ambulance Corps building.

The shelter at Giralda Farms turned out to not be needed because although there was flooding and the Madison Fire Department pumped water out of more than 100 basements, residents were able to stay in their homes, Landrigan said.

The Local Emergency Planning Committee includes representatives from emergency services units, such as the Madison Police Department, Fire Department, Ambulance Corps, Department of Public Works, Electric Department, Board of Education, Health Department, Morris County and pharmacies in town.

Landrigan said he is reviewing plans with deputy Office of Emergency Management coordinator Lt. Darren Dachisen. He said communication is key.

"We've always had drills, we've always reviewed plans. ... Hurricane Irene was the first time we put it into play," Landrigan said. "When the snowstorm hit, we were pros."


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