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Will NJ Ever Really Be Ready for Another Hurricane? [SERIES]

In the final part of our special series, ‘Are We Ready,’ we examine whether the Garden State truly is prepared for another hurricane, such as Sandy.

Governor Chris Christie meets with Office of Emergency Management about Sandy. (Governor’s Office/Tim Larsen)

Almost one year after Superstorm Sandy, billions of federal and state dollars are going to build up sand dunes, replenish beaches, rebuild and raise homes, buy out neighborhoods in flood-prone neighborhoods and rebuild highways. But how much of a difference will it really make if another big hurricane slams the Garden State?

It depends on who you ask.

“We don’t have any control over the storms. The things we can control are the communications, communications always need to be evolving, how can we do things better,” says New Jersey State Police Superintendent Rick Fuentes, who also heads up the State Office of Emergency Management.

He points out that “some of the things we’ve improved even since Sandy is a re-design of our space up in the Fusion Center, that gives key commissioners conference space, plus desk space to meet with their staffs.”

“We’re much better prepared to respond but I think we need to harden those assets, and that’s going to take time,” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says. “With the dune program, we should have most of it done by the hurricane season in 2014, and all of it done by the hurricane season in ’15.”

“We’re working with PSE&G to harden some of their assets, to make the power outages less severe if we have another storm. We’re raising homes through the hazard mitigation program, we’re buying out homes in repeatedly flooded areas through the blue acres program, so there’s things that are progressing right now. They won’t be ready in the next month for the end of this hurricane season, but many of them will be done and in place by hurricane season 2014.”

The Governor also points out we learned so much from Irene that made us better prepared, and the same was true for Sandy.

“It’s unfortunate that you have to have these experiences to learn but only when you’re tested like this do you know what works and what doesn’t.” Christie said.

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