All hands on deck: Utilities, shore towns prepare for Hermine
BELMAR — Utilities and towns along the shore are moving ahead with preparations for potential damage from Hermine on the Jersey Shore.
Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said Hermione ultimately will stay well east of New Jersey.
"That means we’ll be right on the edge of the weakest part of the storm – great news for avoiding the heavy tropical deluges and the potentially damaging winds gusting to 40-50 mpg. That’s fierce enough to bring down trees and power lines, make driving difficult, and blow lawn furniture around," said Zarrow, adding that the winds will be strongest along the Jersey Shore, where a tropical storm watch is in effect.
JCP&L spokesman Scott Pakac said the utility is monitoring the storm and the company has its incident command center ready to go. JCP&L also has mutual agreements in place to bring in additional repair crews if necessary.
"We'll have regular storm meetings throughout the weekend and a number of people will be on standby ready for whatever happens," Pakac said.
Atlantic City Electric, serving the area likely to get the worst of the storm, said it is bringing in an additional 160 overhead line contractors and tree crew personnel as well as crews from its sister utilities to assist in any restoration effort
“Customers can also take steps to make sure they are ready, too. We encourage customers with special needs or those dependent upon electricity for medical equipment, to have an alternate arrangement in place in the event they experience an extended power outage," ACE said in a statement.
Atlantic City Electric has an online power map and information about reporting outages as well.
“Depending on the track of the storm, Hermine may stall off the New Jersey coast, bringing prolonged periods of wind and rain to our service territory,” said John Latka, PSE&G senior vice president-electric and gas operations. “In addition to having additional personnel and equipment at the ready, we are installing barriers at a number of substations to keep water out. We have already elevated several switching and substations above flood level in preparation for this kind of severe weather.”
PSE&G's power map is here.
NJ Transit spokesman Jim Smith said they are "closely monitoring the storm" and any decisions about service and equipment would be based on the track of the storm.
North Wildwood, which was hard hit by flooding during the January blizzard, has started preparing by moving their fleet of high water vehicles into the city. "They really become the backbone of our operation during high water events," Mayor Patrick Rosenello said. Lifeguard stands and trash cans are also being brought off the beach, according to Rosenello.
"We were able to repair all the dune damage that occurred during the January blizzard so we have our shore protection back as good as it was before the storm," Rosenello said. "The job of the dunes is to absrb the worst of the storm and sometimes in the process they sacrifice themselves which is why we rushed to get the dunes rebuilt. They're really your main line of protection from the ocean," explained the mayor.
Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty is monitoring the storm.
"The forecast does not look very promising for families coming to the beach. We're hoping that improves. Right now we're just clearing out the storm drains and lowering our lakes. We don't see any need to build up our dunes or anything like that. But if things change we'll have equipment on the beach to start moving sand if we have to," he said.
Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden is also watching the storm and said Friday is a good day to prepare for the storm and make sure you have batteries, water and medications ready just in case.