By Cleve Bryan
ATLANTIC COUNTY, N.J. (CBS) — As New Jersey observes National Preparedness Month, tractor trailers loaded with supplies stand by ready to deploy should a storm blow this way.
Since Sandy, Atlantic County has been working to more than double its shelter capacity and in doing so, is stock piling supplies as well as training scores of volunteers.
“We never know when the next event is going to be. Typically our worst case scenario is going to be a hurricane so we’re preparing for that level of response, but every day we’re responding to something,” says Ed Conover, deputy director of Atlantic County Emergency Management.
During Sandy and Hurricane Irene, there was space for about 3,000 evacuees in the shelters. Now the county is ready for 6,000 and is working toward room for 10,000.
Don Weger says that volunteers are showing up and more are still welcome to join a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team).
“They help with our sheltering operations, some search and rescue, but mainly we want them to have a disaster preparedness plan for themselves, their family and maybe spread that word to their neighbors,” says Weger who is preparing to begin another CERT class in two weeks.
Some of the equipment new to Atlantic County this year are a dozen five-ton rescue trucks that were passed on from the National Guard. Conover says there was difficulty during Sandy trying to rescue people in deep water.
The County is also becoming better prepared for helping people with pets at shelters. The County Animal Response Team (CART) has pallets of supplies to help people who couldn’t bring cages, food or other supplies they need to take care of their pets.
“Since Sandy we worked with the county to get some more equipment,” says volunteer CART coordinator Ashley Dolen.