Prepping For Natural Disaster Takes the Right People, and a Plan

An East Coast utility prone to hurricanes and flooding puts priority on emergency preparedness
Prepping For Natural Disaster Takes the Right People, and a Plan
In October 2012, during Superstorm Sandy, the Middlesex Water Company's emergency response team was put into action to address a diesel fuel shortage in New Jersey.

Interested in Stormwater?

Get Stormwater articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

Stormwater + Get Alerts

It’s an accident of geography, but one of the biggest challenges faced by Middlesex Water Company is its location along the East Coast, an area prone to damaging floods and storms in recent years. In dealing with such events, the company’s emergency response and diverse geographic structure have helped significantly. 

Bernadette M. Sohler, vice president of corporate affairs, says the company — which has its headquarters in Iselin, New Jersey, and provides water services to municipalities throughout New Jersey and Delaware — has a fully integrated emergency management team, with coordinators in each of seven regional companies. 

“They are connected as part of a single incident command structure,” she says. “They report and manage developments, coordinate activity and leverage assets, shuttling human resources and equipment around as needed.” 

During Superstorm Sandy in October 2012, all power was out and refineries were shut down in the company’s New Jersey service area, resulting in a diesel fuel shortage. The emergency team obtained fuel from its subsidiary in Delaware, which was less affected by the storm. The fuel was needed to power company facilities, which were on emergency generators for an extended time.

“We’re located in the path of storm surges and hurricanes,” says Sohler. “Emergency preparedness is a big deal and one of our highest priorities.”

The company has constantly revisited and adjusted its plans as storms have become more widespread, more frequent and longer lasting. In such emergencies, Middlesex Water assists other area water and wastewater utilities.

“We work to maintain relationships with the municipalities we serve, our wholesale customers and the state emergency response team throughout the year,” says Sohler. “We communicate constantly during emergencies. We want to serve as a resource wherever we are needed.”

Read more about Middlesex Water and the agency's work to update its water distribution infrastructure ("Underground Upgrades") in this month's issue of Municipal Sewer & Water.

Photo credit: "NASA Satellites See Sandy Expand as Storm Intensifies" by NASA GOES Project is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.