North Plainfield Police
Flood Guidelines for North Plainfield Residents
Important phone numbers
- North Plainfield Police Dept.-769-2937
- North Plainfield Fire Dept.-769-2935
- NP Dept. of Public Works-769-2914
- NP Health Dept.-769-2907
- NP Mayor’s Office-769-2902
- Hazardous Waste-609-584-4250
- NJ Dept of Environmental Protection
Storm Water Enf.-609-984-5855
Floods are an inevitable and natural part of life for those who live along or near streams and rivers. Historically serious flooding has occurred in the low lying areas of North Plainfield and it is important for people living in those areas to be prepared and to know what to do before disaster strikes. This guide has been prepared to assist residents in that preparation by providing measures which every resident and property owner may take to lessen the impact of flooding on their lives and property.
This guide was prepared by the North Plainfield Police and is based on a number of source documents and resources. Neither the Borough of North Plainfield nor its agents and employees make any warranty, expressed or implied, nor assume any legal liability or responsibility for the completeness, accuracy or usefulness of information obtained from the various sources. In addition, the Borough of North Plainfield does not endorse or recommend any product or category of products named herein: when individual manufacturers’ names are listed it does not mean that their product has a quality any higher than similar products made by other manufacturers which are not mentioned.
Where will flooding occur? How often?
As a rule, almost every area adjacent to a river or stream may experience flooding at one time or another. Federal and State flood maps, historical records and personal experience make it possible to determine whether a property in North Plainfield is located in the floodway, the 100 year flood zone, 500 year flood zone or has little or no exposure to flooding.
The area closest to the rivers and streams is the floodway. The floodway encompasses the locations which actually become part of the river during a flood and which are subject to the most frequent inundations experienced in the Borough.
100 year flood zone; 500 year flood zone
The terms 100 year flood and 500 year flood are misleading. They do not mean that a flood will occur once every 100 or 500 years. Rather, they indicate that the flood elevation that has a 1% chance of being equaled or exceeded each year. Thus the 100 year or 500 year flood could occur at much shorter intervals, even within the same year. The 100 year flood, which is the standard used by Federal and State agencies, is also used by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) as the standard for flood plain management and to determine the need for flood insurance. A structure located within a special flood hazard area shown on a NFIP map has a 26% chance of suffering damage during the term of a 30 year mortgage. NOTE: The major floods of 1984 and 2005 have been estimated by the Army Corps of Engineers as 75 to 80 year floods.
Flood Watches and Warnings
A Flood Watch or Flood Warning for our area is issued by the National Weather Service. When a Flood Warning is issued the weather service is telling us that flooding is imminent. When a Flood Warning is issued the North Plainfield Office of Emergency Management provides an advisory to North Plainfield residents. Information is provided on AM RADIO 1630
The mainstream news media will also often supply up to date information. The National Weather Service transmits up-to-the-minute weather reports twenty four hours a day, 365 days a year on radio station KW035 on a frequency of 162.55 MHZ. When a Flood Warning is issued, additional information relating to our local rivers is often broadcast. To hear this broadcast requires a radio able to be tuned to this frequency. Special radios are available at very low cost in local branches of electronic chain stores, other retailers and catalog houses. Weather information is also provided on line at weather.com
Some basic steps:
Find out if you live in a flood prone area. If your area is prone to flooding:
- Learn about the National Flood Insurance Program. Regular home owners policies do not cover flood damage.
- Learn about our community’s emergency plans, warning signals, evacuation routes and locations of emergency shelters.
- Discuss what to do in case of a flood. Include the children. Develop a home evacuation plan and practice it with your family.
- Learn how to shut off utilities such as gas, electricity and water. Teach adults and older children where electric fuse boxes, water service mains and natural gas mains are and how to turn them off if necessary.
- Establish a “family contact” in case your family is separated during a flood. Make sure everyone in your family knows the name, address and phone number of this contact person.
- Post emergency phone numbers at every phone.
- Inform local authorities about any special needs, i.e., elderly or bedridden people, or anyone with a disability.
- Plan how to take care of pets. Be advised that, with the exception of guide dogs, shelters do not allow pets.
- Make sure your street address number is large and unobstructed so that emergency personnel can find your home quickly.
- Have a flashlight and a battery powered radio available and in good condition. Maintain a list of items which should be removed to higher ground or secured.
- Purchase and maintain a fire extinguisher and make sure family members know where it is and how to use it.
- Have a licensed electrician raise electric components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wire connections) at least 12” above your homes highest projected flood elevation.
- Install backflow valves or plugs on drains, toilets and other sewer connections to prevent flood waters from entering.
- Keep rising water out of window wells. Since windows cannot stand much pressure contour the ground so water will naturally drain away from the house.
- Make sure downspouts are in place so that rain and snow melt are carried away from the house.
Emergency supplies to have on hand:
Several clean containers for water, large enough for a 3-5 day supply of water (about five gallons for each person). You may clean and fill bathtubs, sinks and jugs with clean water as tap water may become contaminated.
- A 3-5 day supply of non perishable food and a non electric can opener.
- A first aid kit and manual, prescription medications and special medical needs supplies.
- A battery powered radio, flashlights and extra batteries.
- Sleeping bags or extra blankets.
- Water purifying supplies, such as chlorine or iodine tablets or unscented, ordinary household bleach.
- If there is an infant in the house: baby food, and/or prepared formula, diapers and other baby supplies.
- Disposable cleaning cloths, such as baby wipes for the whole family to use in case bathing facilities are not available.
- Personal hygiene supplies, such as soap, toothpaste, sanitary napkins, etc.
- Cash and credit cards.
- An emergency kit for your car with flares, booster cables, maps, tools, a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, sleeping bags, etc.
- Rubber boots, sturdy shoes and waterproof gloves.
- Insect repellent for protection from mosquitoes which may gather in pooled water remaining after the flood.
If you are under a Flood Watch:
A flood watch indicates that flooding is a possibility, not a certainty.
Persons in a flood hazard area prone to flooding should prepare to secure their premises and move to safe ground.
Families should review evacuation plans. In the event you decide to evacuate the area before being officially advised to do so, advise local friends or neighbors of your destination in the event you must be reached.
- Monitor water levels closely. Keep alert for advisory updates. Tune in to National Weather Services radio and television updates.
- Do not call the Police Department for flood update information as this may tie up urgently needed telephone lines. However if you have an emergency Call 911.
- Follow all advisories. They are issued for your protection, safety and well being.
If you are under a Flood Warning:
When a flood warning is issued the weather service is telling us that flooding is imminent. Persons in a flood hazard area prone to flooding should prepare to secure their premises and move to safe ground.
- Move vehicles and other portable equipment that you will not use in an evacuation to higher ground.
- Gather and inventory the emergency supplies you previously stocked.
- Keep in contact with your neighbors.
- Secure all objects such as loose lumber, toys, picnic tables, lawn furniture, refuse, fuel tanks, etc. which could float away.
- Secure valuable papers, items of jewelry that can be taken with you if you need to evacuate. Have your immunization records handy. Be aware of the date of your last tetanus shot, in case you receive a puncture wound or a wound becomes contaminated during or after the flood.
- Comply with all conditions for coverage as specified in your flood insurance policies.
- Pay no attention to rumors- verify information.
- Keep children of all ages OUT of flood waters- the water is contaminated and hazardous.
- Do not run a sump pump during a flood when a sump pump will be quickly overwhelmed and the motor will more than likely burn out. Also, you will be re-pumping the same water over and over as the discharged water will recycle. Do not pump water into a septic system because the water will saturate the drainage field. Do not run sump pump water into the sanitary sewer system. This may overload the system and cause sewage back up.
Preparing to evacuate:
Fill your cars gas tank and make sure the emergency kit for your car is ready.
- If no vehicle is available make arrangements with friends or family for transportation.
- Have a predetermined destination taking shelter with relatives or friends or by making other arrangements such as a hotel or motel. Plan for more than one nights stay.
- Secure arrangements for pets. Pets are unlikely to survive on their own. See if your veterinarian will accept your pet in an emergency. Make sure your pet has a properly fitted collar that includes current license and rabies tags. Most kennels require proof of current rabies and distemper vaccinations before accepting a pet.
- Fill your clean water containers.
- Review your emergency plans and supplies.
- Prepare appliances for flooding. Shut off appliances at the fuse box or breaker panel. Even if floodwaters are not reaching electrical outlets, the risk of electrical shock in a flooded basement is high with electrical motors in the furnace, freezer, washer dryer and other appliances. Put freezers, washer, dryer and other appliances up on wood or cement blocks to keep the motors above the water level.
- Move hazardous materials to higher locations. That includes paint, oil, cleaning supplies, gasoline and other dangerous materials.
- Tune in to radio or television for weather updates; check for updated advisories.
Voluntary or Self Evacuation:
Unless an unusually rapid rise in water levels occurs flood warnings and advisories will be issued well in advance of waters reaching flood stage. During periods of heavy rains those living in the areas of North Plainfield prone to flooding should seek all sources of information concerning flood potential and tune into AM RADIO 1630.
A disaster such as a flood will usually prompt the declaration of a local State of Emergency through the recovery period. Under such a declaration, Emergency Management, Police and other first responders have broadened authority. Mandatory evacuations are enforceable by law.
The North Plainfield Office of Emergency Management will recommend evacuation through advisories and notifications when conditions or predictions indicate flooding is likely. This recommendation may come before mandatory evacuations are ordered. If authorities recommend evacuation do so as quickly and safely as possible.
Do not wait to for the validation of projections and warnings. It may become impossible to evacuate you at a later time. If you remain in your home after being advised to leave, you endanger the lives of your family members as well as the lives of emergency responders and volunteers who must try to evacuate you later when conditions have worsened and you have changed your mind.
In the event that you or a member of your household is trapped in your home without access to outside communication, a white or light colored sheet or towel hung outside an upper floor street facing window should be displayed to alert emergency services.
North Plainfield Borough is trained and equipped to assist with evacuations and rescue in flood emergencies. These operations are extremely dangerous to victims and rescuers. Do not ignore warnings and advisories and determine to ride out the flood when advised or ordered to evacuate.
If you are ordered or advised to evacuate:
- Shut off gas, electricity and water.
- Make provision for water to enter the cellar, either through open windows or cellar doors. The presence of water in a basement helps support the foundation walls against the pressure from the outside and often prevents collapse.
- Again, pets are unlikely to survive on their own. See if your veterinarian will accept your pet in an emergency. Make sure your pet has a properly fitted collar that includes current license and rabies tags. Most kennels require proof of current rabies and distemper vaccinations before accepting a pet.
- Leave immediately. Do not attempt to drive or walk across flooded roads or land. Turn around and go the other way.
- Do not touch loose or dangling wires.
- Drive cautiously. Watch for debris. Pavement may be undermined by water.
- The Office of Emergency Management in conjunction with the American Red Cross, will open the North Plainfield Shelter at the Community Center or other location given on AM RADIO 1630. when evacuation is advised or mandated and the minimum number of displaced persons has been met. The shelter will be open to those displaced persons who do not have alternate means of housing. The emergency shelter is intended as an interim solution and will remain open until flood waters have receded or alternate housing is found. The shelter will be staffed the American Red Cross and volunteer North Plainfield Borough Community Emergency Response Team members. Security will be provided by the North Plainfield Police Department.
Should you decide not to evacuate:
You be asked to sign a form that you acknowledge that help will not be returning. Experience has shown people who choose not to evacuate change their minds and then put Police, Fire and other emergency services people’s lives at an unacceptable risk by their decision not to evacuate as hereby ordered.
You will be requested to list you next of kin so that in the event of tragedy they may be notified as soon as possible.
We also ask for your dentist contact info and your signature to authorize the release of your dental records. This information is needed so that we may obtain dental records to assist in identification of your remains.
You are further notified that should additional assistance be needed i.e. special equipment to perform a rescue you will be billed for the added service’s you caused by not heeding the evacuation order.
For all Police, Fire or EMS Emergencies call 911.
After a flood:
Do not return home until authorities have indicated it is safe. If your property is severely flooded and you anticipate making a claim on your flood insurance policy, begin recording the damage to your home by taking photographs and by making a list of damage with comments. Thorough documentation of loss is also required by the Internal Revenue Service if a casualty deduction is taken.
- Do not attempt to drive or walk on closed or flooded roadways or cross land that is still covered by receding waters.
- When entering buildings, use extreme caution. Never enter a flooded basement. Potential hazards include:
- Gas leaks. Do not smoke or use an open flame when entering homes or buildings. Leave your home immediately and call the gas company if you smell the odor of leaking gas. Contact utility companies before turning gas or electric back on. Gas Utility: Public Service 1-800-436-7734
- Electrocution. Wear rubber gloves and rubber soled shoes to avoid electrocution. Do not turn on any lights or appliances if the house has been flooded. Leave the electricity off when checking electrical circuits and equipment or when checking a flooded basement. Electric Utility: Public Service 1-800-436-7734; Jersey Central 1-800-452-9155
- Structural damage. Watch for falling debris and the possibility of collapsing ceilings and basement walls. All flood damaged homes should be inspected by North Plainfield Building Department Officials before being reoccupied.
- Food . Do not keep or eat food that has come in contact with floodwaters. Do not eat food left in refrigerators that have been without electricity. Frozen foods that have defrosted, but are still 41 degrees F should be cooked immediately or be destroyed. Loss of power for less than 48 hours duration will usually not affect the foods if the freezer doors have not been opened.
- Beverages. All beverage bottles and cans with crimped caps should be destroyed.
- Drugs and cosmetics. Handle the same as general foods. This includes bandages, cotton, tape and other surgical supplies and devices.
- Water. Do not use water that has come in contact with floodwaters. Residents using shallow wells or well points as their water source must boil all water used for drinking or cooking for fifteen (15) minutes.
- When flood waters recede, the wells must be chlorinated. Well water should be disinfected with liquid household bleach before using for washing or bathing. Chlorine should be poured directly into the well in the following amounts: Following the introduction of chlorine into the well, the well should not be used for at least 6 hours to 24 hours, after which the pump should be started and water discharges slowly through the storage tank and taps until the odor of chlorine is gone. If a definite chlorine odor is not detected in the water being discharged shortly after starting the process, the pump should be stopped and the well re-treated with the same dose of chlorine and the entire procedure repeated.
Before drinking the well water that has been disinfected, have it checked for the coliform organism by a certified laboratory.
- If your water is supplied by the city water system, it is safe to use from the tap.
- Homes and businesses that are part of the city sanitary sewer system can use facilities as normal.
- Septic systems flooded over should not be used. When flood waters recede, contaminated ground should be disinfected by spreading lime.
- Open all doors and windows to dry out the house as soon as weather conditions permit.
- Cellars and floors. Clean mud and debris, sprinkle with chloride, lime, bleach or chlorine solution. Allow to dry, sweep up and thoroughly scrub.
- Do not rush to move in. Do not live in the house until it has been cleaned, disinfected and allowed to thoroughly dry.
- Garbage and refuse. After major floods which enter the living levels of homes, special garbage and debris pickup will be made in flood areas. Double bag all garbage and keep it separated from recyclables discarded furniture, bedding, other household effects and vegetative waste.
General clean up tips:
During cleanup, wear rubber gloves, washable clothing, rubber boots.
After cleanup, thoroughly wash hands with soap and water. Wash clothing in hot water and detergent. Dry in dryer. Throw out cleaning rags. Place them in plastic bags. Sanitize boots with disinfectant.
A sanitary solution can be made by mixing one part chlorine bleach with ten parts water. Sanitize food preparation surfaces. To disinfect floors and other hard surfaces: remove soil, apply disinfectant. Mops should be soaked in disinfectant after use and washed in hot water. Cleaning equipment such as dust pans or buckets should be thoroughly rinsed in the disinfectant. Dispose of the disinfectant in the sink or toilet.
Keep all cleaning agents out of the reach of children and pets. Do not mix ammonia and chlorine bleach, the combination can be deadly!
If an automobile was not removed prior to the flood and was submerged it is suggested that you:
- Do not try to start or operate the vehicle.
- Move the car by towing with the drive wheels removed or secured.
- Contact a qualified mechanic to check all wiring connections and replace all fluids.
- Flush body openings with cold water.
- Dry the interior as rapidly as possible
- Wash off heavy sediment with detergent.
- Clean trunk and spare tire well.