Ridgewood officials are bracing for a storm that could wallop the area as early as Monday, and are asking residents to do their part in keeping themselves and neighbors safe.
In a 411 call sent to residents on Friday, the village advised residents to immediately stop placing leaf piles out on the street.
"We're ready for the storm," Streets Department director John Spano told Patch Friday. "But it's critical that leaves aren't put out over the next few days because it could block the storm drains."
If heavy rains fall, as is expected, and the drains are clogged, flooding could be severe. "We can handle three inches of rain, no problem. But if the drains back up we won't be able to handle it," Spano said.
There are more than 2,500 catch basins in Ridgewood and workers have already performed 23 truckload pickups of drains that were clogged, he said. Workers have abandoned the normal leaf collection schedule and are "all over" town, paying particular attention to the low-lying areas.
"Once the storm is over, go ahead and put it out," Spano said of the leaves. "And please, please do not put branches out."
Workers from the Ridgewood Engineering Department were also hustling around the flood-prone areas of the East Side on Friday.
"We're removing trees," Engineer Peter Affuso said, pointing at a bulldozer perched near the bridge on Maple and Meadowbrook Avenue. "We also cleared out the big sandbar by Burnside and Mulberry Place."
The Ridgewood Fire Department is also taking steps to mitigate the effects of potential flooding in the troublesome areas. Ridgewood Fire Chief Jim Van Goor said crews were out to rendezvous with Parks & Rec Department head Tim Cronin to get the rescue boat ready.
The fire department during Irene evacuated approximately 50 residents. No evacuation warnings have been disseminated, but Ridgewood Police Chief John Ward told Patch Thursday those in prime flood zones should make plans to leave if necessary.
Furnishings should be brought to higher ground and all outdoor furniture should be brought in or properly secured, he said.
Both the fire and police departments will be ready with additional manpower if the impacts of the storm are as great as projected.
"Although the storm is days away, OEM Coordinator Jeremy Kleiman convened a meeting this morning of Department heads to make sure everyone is on the same page and to identify what steps needed to be taken," Mayor Paul Aronsohn said Friday.
"Jeremy has also been in contact with the school superintendent and the interfaith community," he added. "Village staff have been hard at work all day making preparations."
County Executive Kathleen Donovan held a conference call at 3 p.m. and said the county is prepared to open three shelters, Aronsohn told Patch on Friday.
Village Hall – which is among the first areas to flood in Ridgewood – has door jams assembled to keep flood waters at bay. The renovation project to repair the $400,000 worth of damage wrought by Irene completed mere weeks ago.
Staff were removing items from the first floor and vehicles will be brought to higher ground as Monday approaches.
"We're on it," Aronoshn said. "And while hoping for the best, we are doing everything we can to prepare for the worst."
Meanwhile, officials in the village were asking residents to register for e-notices, which can be found on the village website.
Previous Hurricane Sandy coverage:
- No Halloween Curfews Planned in Ridgewood – For Now
- Gov. Christie: Prepare for Hurricane Sandy
- Hurricane Sandy Could Make NJ Landfall Monday
- Glen Rock Institutes 'Mischief Night' Curfew
- Hurricane Sandy: Everything You Need to Know in Ridgewood/Glen Rock
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