TRENTON – Senator Jeff Van Drew, Chair of the Assembly Coastal New Jersey Evacuation Task Force (Task Force), unveiled a package of ten bills today that would enhance the State’s ability to evacuate and shelter residents of shore communities during times of severe coastal flooding.
“After seeing the devastation on the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, it was clear that New Jersey needed to make sure that we could quickly and thoroughly respond to a similar disaster,” said Senator Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland and Atlantic. “It’s easy to get complacent when New Jersey hasn’t seen a major hurricane is quite awhile. We must assume that disaster can hit at any moment so that we are prepared to get people out of harms way when that next hurricane or major nor’easter does arrive.”
The ten bills are a result of the report released by the Task Force on May 23. The report was made after hearing testimony from the public on how the State could improve its ability to react to severe coastal flooding and evacuate those living in coastal communities.
“The proposals made within this bipartisan legislative bill package would enhance the capability of state, county and municipal agencies to effectively coordinate a mass evacuation from coastal areas,” said Assemblyman Brian Rumpf, Vice Chair of the Task Force and prime sponsor of the Assembly counterparts to Senator Van Drew’s bill. “It is imperative that we begin addressing any existing complications that would slow or hinder any evacuation effort should our state face catastrophic conditions similar to those created by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. If New Jersey is to be better prepared, these proposals must become a top priority of the legislative agenda so that they can be in place if and when needed.”
According to Senator Van Drew, the legislative package focuses on public education, developing emergency plans, expediting evacuations and expanding available emergency shelters.
“These are all low-cost proposals that can be implemented quickly while having a considerable impact on New Jersey’s ability to quickly and effectively react to future coastal flooding,” added Senator Van Drew. “The time to act is now, before New Jersey sees a Katrina-like hurricane headed up the Atlantic Coast.”
The ten bills being proposed by Senator Van Drew are:
- S2027 – Would require State and county offices of emergency management to designate critical infrastructure in need of emergency power generators.
- S2028 – Would expand emergency operations plans to include care for domestic animals.
- S2029 – Would establishes commission authorized to identify and locate emergency shelters.
- S2030 – Would prohibits towing and transportation of boats during emergency evacuations.
- S2031 – Would require State and local emergency operations plans include provisions to address needs of families of emergency responders serving during a disaster or emergency.
- S2032 – Would require the State Police to implement reverse lane strategy on certain roads.
- S2033 – Would provide for Statewide evacuation strategy for hospitals and other health care facilities.
- S2034 – Would direct Office of Emergency Management to develop and undertake annual public awareness campaign concerning State’s emergency coastal evacuation plan.
- S2035 – Would establish coastal operations team to review county evacuation plans.
- S2096 – Would require that newly built schools be constructed to serve as emergency shelters.