By Berit Ollestad
Hurricane Jack is set to make landfall in the early morning hours…
That was the word from the Morris County Office of Emergency Management on Wednesday. And with torrential downpours and flooding throughout the state, it wasn’t a hard sell.
After Tropical Storm Irene, the October snowstorm that followed it, and Superstorm Sandy, New Jersey has learned to take weather seriously.
With those hard lessons in mind, more than 100 county employees and emergency responders from across the area spent the day planning their response to a simulated catastrophe, a category 4 hurricane named Jack that was forecast to make a direct hit somewhere in the tri-state region.
Photos by Kurt Eller and Berit Ollestad
“In order to put an exercise of this magnitude together, you need to have leadership, you need to have vision and you need to have a county that understands that preparedness is vital to our primary mission to serve others,” Morris OEM Director Jeff Paul said at the Morris County Emergency Operations Center in Parsippany.
Giant video screens flashed weather maps and emergency responders huddled around computer screens.
“This exercise is a culmination of what the federal government identified back in 2010-11, in order for us to be prepared for any catastrophic event that we might have to deal with. We learned a lot from Sandy and Irene and this exercise will test what it is we have learned,” said OEM Coordinator Scott DiGiralomo.