North Wildwood’s Emergency Preparedness website
Starting today June 1st and continuing through November 30th is the Atlantic Hurricane Season and with this year’s predictions from various sources calling for an above average Hurricane season we are taking this time to post some points for you to consider regarding preparedness and monitoring the weather.
Starting with preparedness – Some of the things that our recent pandemic illustrates is that FEMA is a back up service to state and local governments and most importantly preparedness is a continuing process. For example many organizations did not have N95 masks and to wait to get some from FEMA or they had masks and other supplies that were stock piled when the Avian Flu appeared in the early 2000’s and they found many of rubber components failed. Nobody wants to open sealed boxes but had they checked their supplies regularly they would have been better prepared. When food or other supplies have expiration dates it is important to make note of them, also other supplies and equipment that don’t have expiration dates should be marked with a date and checked at least annually. Rubber along with other synthetic materials degenerate with exposure to air, sunlight, and time.
As we have pointed out before on this website no level of government can have enough shelters, supplies and equipment to cover everyone in the area so community preparedness is only as good as collective preparedness of the individuals in the community. Preparedness begins at home. Below are some of the locations where you can find information on preparations needed for various events.
(1) http://ready.northwildwood.com This link will take you to the “Be Prepared” page of this website which contains links for the Hurricane Survival Guide, Evacuation Routes, New Jersey Ready website, National Ready website , Tsunami, Winter storm, Tornado, CDC Emergency Preparedness information and lastly the link for NJ Register Ready is New Jersey’s Special Needs Registry for Disasters.
(2) The NWOEM Brochure link on the left hand side of this page will take you to a .pdf copy of the brochure that North Wildwood Office of Emergency Management put together several years ago. Copies are available at the City Clerks office if you need a hard copy.
A key to any effective preparedness is to have a general idea when you will need to use the things you collected to be prepared. Weather is our largest concern when it comes to frequency and damages. One good thing about weather is that it is monitored by the National Weather Service which generates weather forecasts. Even the unexpected tornado or flooding from rain has some advanced notice. Below we list some of the weather resources that we check regularly. We hope that you make it a daily habit to check the weather.
(1) National Weather Service forecast for North Wildwood This link will take you to the 7 day forecast for North Wildwood. The key things to pay attention to is a red bar with the words Hazardous Weather Conditions with links under it for the Hazardous Weather Outlook and any other hazardous weather such as thunderstorms warnings, rip tides, flooding, etc. You need to click on the link which takes you to the text based forecast which spells out what to expect. This is where you find tide heights in flood watches, and rain fall amounts. Those that want to learn more check out the portion of the page marked “Additional Forecasts and Information” area where you find the forecast discussion and other information in detail.
(2) As Weather systems in the United States generally move from West to East it is helpful to see what the weather is on a map of the United States. One of the best ways to check the nations weather is to check the National Weather Service Daily Briefing. In addition to the national weather map the Daily Briefing is full of information and links to other weather resources.
(3) The National Hurricane Center is the website to check whenever there is a report of tropical weather forming. The NHC is the source of all hurricane forecasting that all the other weather reporters use. Remember to click on the tropical depression or storm to get detailed information on wind speeds, storm direction and future projections.
(4) While the National Hurricane Center shows their official forecast a website that shows all the forecast models that are taken into consideration when weather forecasts are made is Tropical Tidbits. On the top of the page are links for current storms, forecast models, etc. Much of the stuff is forecast models not a final forecast – Models are the consensus of a group of weather forecasters believe will take place. From the models you can understand why we may get weather different than what the local forecaster is calling for. For Hurricanes you will see various paths a hurricane may take and when several of the models are close to each other then most likely that will be the final path. Tropical Tidbits is can also be used for all weather as you can put a model into actions showing predicted rain or snow coming our way. The website has a lot of information and after you get used to using it you will be able to have the heads up on possible future weather which aids in preparedness.
(5) The next is Windy.com is a website that has a lot of features, many of which are on the Tropical Tidbits website however everything is in interactive graphics. It will take a little while to get used to the page as there is many of layers of information that is available which can be turned on or off. Once you are comfortable with using the website you can then get future weather by using the slider at the bottom of the page and you can select different forecast models on the lower right side.
There are other website out there that you might like better. If you only want the forecast for our area then stick to the local National Weather Service Forecast. It is clear and simple however if you want to get a better understanding of the weather take a few moments and check out the other websites. For real time alerts consider a Weather Radio or Weather APP for your smart phone.
North Wildwood’s Preparedness / Awareness Week usually is held in mid-April but this year due to the pandemic it was postponed until now. Preparedness / Awareness Week is being observed Monday – May 18th to Friday May 22nd, 2020. The week is a time where all municipal departments review their preparedness for disaster or emergency events prior to Hurricane Season. During this week the Office of Emergency Management and other departments will be posting tips on their respective Facebook Pages on preparedness and information on the municipal warning systems, such as Code Red Emergency Notification System, 1640 AM Radio Station and the Warning Sirens to help the public be more aware of these systems which is the Awareness part of the week. On Wednesday May 20th at 11AM there will be a test of the Tornado Siren. Prior to that on Tuesday and Wednesday at 10AM the OEM will be sending a City Wide Code Red Message about the siren test. It is a time to see if you are receiving Code Red Messages. More information will be posted Code Red Messages, who gets them, how to register, etc. will be posted on the OEM Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/NWEmergencyManagement/ on Monday to start the week off. The Facebook page will be updated daily during the week with different information the warning systems and preparedness. A week ago it was Hurricane Preparedness Week and we posted daily information on what to do to be prepared for a hurricane. We ask that all residents take a moment this week to ask themselves to check their personal preparedness plans and check their personal equipment – one example is getting the hip boots out of the closet and see if they are still in good shape, etc.
With every situation there are always lessons learned. With the stay-at-home order issued to combat the Coronavirus (COVID-19) there are plenty of lessons to be learned that will help in other situations. In Emergency Management we often look for the similarities with other situations for ideas to solve problems, for example, traffic counts of vehicles leaving the County per hour after a busy holiday weekend tells us how long lead time we need to evacuate a specific amount of people from the county for a hurricane or to know shelter capabilities in the winter we can look at the 2010 Ice Storm where electric was out for three to seven days. By posting on our Facebook page the Water by the numbers updates we hope that many of you that live in flood prone areas take note of water heights and the corresponding flooded areas so when a forecast gives a expected tide height you know where to park your car. With every situation whether emergency or daily routine one should take a moment to step back and take a look to see if you can do it better, of if you do it more efficiently, expense wise was it the best value and lastly was the task really necessary (are you doing the task because of habit or need).
Getting back to sheltering in place or stay at home what can be learned? Did you have enough food and medications? What are you short of? What would like to have more of? Take a few minutes and create a pantry and freezer plan where you have a base amount of food supplies on hand and when you use something you add it to your shopping list.
Lessons learned from the Coronavirus will change things for years to come. More people maybe working from home after they tried it. More students might take online courses. More people might do their food shopping from home and have it delivered once they try it. Hospitals and the medical community will be better prepared for the future for unexpected mass events. Visiting the doctors office via the internet may be the norm for non-emergencies. Take the time to learn some lessons.
Here are some important COVID-19 Links:
New Jersey’s COVID-19 Website
New Jersey Homeland Security Website on rumor and disinformation
New Jersey Department of Health Facebook Page
Cape May County Health Department Facebook Page
United States COVID-19 Website
Center for Disease Control (CDC) Website
Starting with January we are using a different tide location for our prediction charts. For as many years as we can remember we have been using the NOAA Nummy Island tide predictions for our official tide predictions. Nummy Island tide predictions like most tide predictions in our area are based off a reference station which in our case is Cape May and a difference is added or subtracted to come up with a prediction for Nummy Island. After several years of posting the Water By the Numbers posts on Facebook it was clear that Nummy Island tide times were different that what we were seeing. For those that don’t know Nummy Island is located between North Wildwood and Stone Harbor (Ocean Drive takes you over it). The next nearest location and probably better suited for the back bay areas of North Wildwood is the West Wildwood tide prediction. So starting on January 1st, 2020 we will be using the tide prediction times for Grassy Sounds – West Wildwood as our tide predictions. While adopting a new prediction location really doesn’t change anything that happens with the physical tides the only real change is that the high and low tides will happen a half hour later than it previously was predicted. Most people will not notice the change and the only people that might have to do some thing are those with tide clocks or phone applications they use to track the tide and once they are changed nothing else is needed.
Next in November a staff member had the opportunity to meet one of the meteorologist from the Mount Holly – Philadelphia office of the National Weather Service. As a result of that meeting and a series of back and forth emails we learned the following regarding our understanding of the tide heights and what the NWS minor / moderate / major flooding mean to our area. For years because the NWS in their text version of Coastal Flood Warning provides predictions for both Cape May and Ocean City we used the tide heights of 6.7 feet as minor, 7.7 feet as moderate and 8.7 as major they were listed with Cape May. (measurement are feet above MLLW). In response to our inquiry the NWS responded “The values 6.7 (minor), 7.7 (moderate) and 8.7 (major) were developed specifically for the Cape May Ferry tide gauge. They were never meant to be used for the North Wildwood gauge due to the variability in MLLW from location to location. We at the NWS think that 6.0 (minor), 7.0 (moderate), and 8.0 (major) are more suitable values for North Wildwood. Those values would put you in synch category-wise with all the other oceanside gauges in Cape May County. When we issue a Coastal Flood Advisory you can expect water levels in the 6.3 to 7.0 foot range at North Wildwood. (We don’t issue advisories for low end minor events). When we issue a Coastal Flood Warning you can expect water levels of 7.0 feet or greater at North Wildwood. A warning would indicate that moderate to major flooding is forecast.”
Going forward we will be taking the recommendation of the National Weather Service and will incorporate the minor / moderate / major tide heights. This doesn’t change the tide and tide heights that we have been observing for years however it will give us a better understanding of what to expect when we hear a National Weather Service Coast Flood Advisory / Watch / Warning. Currently we see water at several locations around storm drains on Delaware Avenue when the tide reaches 6.0 and this height will vary from 5.9 to 6.2 depending on the wind speed and direction. So when we or the NWS says “minor” flooding for our area you can expect water from 6.0 to 6.9 feet which is generally water in the gutters of Delaware Avenue and adjacent side streets. Moderate is 7.0 to 7.9 feet which is generally water some areas of Delaware Avenue, New York Avenue, 400 West Spruce Avenue, North Delaware Avenue and adjacent side streets. Major Flooding starts at 8.0 feet and water will be from the west side up and onto sections of New Jersey Avenue and in some areas water will continue into the 100 block East of the adjacent side streets.
For those that follow the tide heights on the municipal tide gauge and know what the tide heights are when water is around your property there is no change. For those that key in on the NWS terminology of minor – moderate – major rather than numbers all of us are now on the same page. As far as the tide predictions the new location should bring us closer to the time when the tide will crest and start going down. The 2020 Tide Charts listing the high and low tides for the year are available by clicking the link called 2020 Tide Charts in the left hand column of this page.
As we approach winter, which officially begins in several weeks on December 21st, we should double check that we are prepared for winter. If you don’t have year round spigots is your outside water turned off? If you open your crawl space windows during the summer are they closed? If you have storm windows, as opposed to double pane windows, do you have the glass down over the screen section? Many of us do this from memory however in our busy and often distracted lives it would be better to create a check list. Get an inexpensive loose leaf binder and put your check lists in it so they are saved in one location. Check list don’t have to be one long list as it is easier to work with several smaller check lists. This way things are not missed and you don’t end up with broken pipes or a high heating bill.
As we approach the end of November and December it is the time of the year end holidays reign with their celebrations comes outside decorations and gift giving. It is important that we stay focused during this time of the year and don’t get carried away with the festivities. First think about travel safety as you will probably be travel one time or another a long distance to visit family, friend or even shop or see a show. Are you prepared – is your car’s tires in good shape? has your antifreeze been checked lately? do you have an emergency kit in the trunk in case you break down? is your spare tire properly inflated? If you take public transportation do you have alternative if the train – bus – plane is cancelled? If taking a plane trip do know what you can carry aboard? Next think about shopping – Do you have a shopping list or are you going to wing it and find something? You have to remember that the holiday crowds often bring out the pick pockets and snatch and grab thieves. Don’t flash a lot of cash and if you are using a credit card have the card in your pocket ready so you don’t have to pull your wallet out every time you make a purchase. Speaking of purchases store them in a locked car trunk rather than visible on the rear seat. Next think about the outside decorations – Are your outside lights rated for outside use? are your decorations anchored in the ground so they don’t blow away? If you live in a low area that gets either tidal flooding or rain flooding do you have any wires that will get wet?
The common theme that we are focusing on in emergency management is preparedness – Preparedness fits into everything we do – something as simple as checking the weather before you travel is preparedness or making a shopping list before you go to the store is preparedness. Thinking about the worst case scenario, i.e. what could happen and being ready for it, i.e., alternate transportation plans or winter emergency kit is preparedness. Life is full of preparedness situations most of which we don’t think as preparedness. Take a minute and think about it. You probably can quickly come up with 10 things you do to make the outcome better. Now apply the same thought process to the next winter storm or hurricane, etc. Take a few minutes to write down what you should do – now you have a plan. Next put the items of the plan in order you have to do them – now you have a check list. We are creatures of habit if you look at the things you do everyday through preparedness eyes when it is time when a disaster is eminent you will be ready and know what to do.
July 1, 2014
As we are already a month into the new hurricane season and our first tropical storm has been named it is time to check our emergency plans and preparation. We urge everyone to visit the links on the left hand side of this page. They are links listed under BE PREPARED. Preparation is not hard and while most preparation needs will be the same for everyone each person will have to come up with his or her own plan. By visiting the suggested websites and tailoring the information to your specific situation you can check your plans and ultimately will be better prepared.
Also today due to the many requests to be added to the flood notification list we have expanded the flood notification to all residents west of New York Avenue from Spruce to 26th Avenues. Phones in these areas will be called and a recorded message will played. There are two messages that can be sent one known as the initial call sent when it appears that flooding will take place and one sent when the siren has been sounded. These phone calls are sent via the CODE RED Community Alert System. Read below to how to add your cell or other phone numbers. REMEMBER this system is used city wide for other notifications so if you are not in the flood prone area you still should visit the CODE RED website and add your alternate phone numbers.
Currently the Code Red Community Alert System will dial every Verizon and Comcast Phone in North Wildwood. However with many people relying on Cellular phones the system will enable you to add phones to your address. Remember this system is based on North Wildwood addresses so when you sign up you need to attach your out of town phone to your North Wildwood address. Being addressed based the city will be using the system to alert those in flood prone areas of flood warnings, those on the snow emergency routes to move their cars and on occasion when there is a natural gas leak or police emergency a circular area around the incident will be notified. Those of you visiting this page can follow this link to get a head start on signing up your “other” phones (Click on the CODE RED LOGO)
On the Code Red website you will be asked if you want to add your email address or receive text messages. We have the ability to duplicate the contents of the voice message into an email and truncated text message. As this will only be used in an emergency why not add all your contact preferences and methods so you can keep informed. Also those with “smart” phones will have the capability to download the Code Red App.
At the North Wildwood Office of Emergency Management we feel our central job is to keep communications when the normal systems are failing. Therefore we don’t put one form of communication above another. At times some may seem simplistic in these times of technology however when normal systems fail we will fall back on them. That is why we depend on a fire siren, AM radio and telephone as basic methods of notification. We will be using North Wildwood’s AM1640 as the method of communication that can put the most information out. Please get your self a good AM radio. Remember when there are no emergencies AM 1640 broadcasts special event information – ever wondered what time the free concert starts and who is playing? it is on AM 1640; want to know what the start and end times of the festival in the entertainment district? it’s on AM 1640 as well as the upcoming events for the next several weeks.