Following Superstorm Sandy, many Union County residents felt lost when they were not receiving enough information or alerts from their town. However, some residents were not aware that the County of Union has a system to get information out to residents during a crisis or emergency.
Many police departments, fire departments and Offices of Emergency Management, including the Scotch Plains Police Department, sent out alerts and notices for residents via the UC First Alert network in the aftermath of Sandy.
"The only significant limitation in our use of the system is the fact that if individual residents, business owners etc. are not registered they will not receive the messages," said Scotch Plains Police Chief Brian Mahoney.
Residents can sign up for UC First Alerts at ucfirstalert.org. During the creation of an account, residents can choose what town they would like to receive information from, including information from the County. UC First Alerts can be sent via text message and/or email.
For example, the following is a message sent through the UC First Alert to residents signed up to receive messages from the Township of Scotch Plains:
"A message from the Scotch Plains Police Dept
The Township of Scotch Plains would like to announce the appointment of Chief Brian T. Mahoney as Coordinator of the Office of Emergency Management.
Power was restored to sections of the downtown area including the traffic signal at Park Av and East Second St. Also, Channing Ave now has power.
The traffic signal at Rt 22 and Glenside has been powered up and functioning.
PSE&G crews have been in the area of Mountain Ave and also in the Terrill Rd / Cooper Rd area working on circuits affecting those areas.
PSE&G expects to have the majority of power restored to Scotch Plains by Saturday. There may be individual customers or small areas affected past that date.
There is still a lot of debris on the roadways. Our DPW and independent contractors will continue to remove downed trees throughout the weekend. Please use caution while driving, especially at night.
The Scotch Plains municipal building, 430 Park Av, and the south side fire house located at the intersection of Martine and Raritan are open during the daytime hours as warming and charging stations.
The Evangel Church, 1251 Terrill Rd continues to offer an overnight shelter, wi-fi, charging stations and limited food. Cots are available first come first serve. Please bring your own bedding.
Thank you for your continued patience.
Sent by Sgt Hernandez to Scotch Plains, Scotch Plains Live, Scotch Plains Works (e-mail accounts) through UC First Alert."
Lt. Alan Attanasio of the Mountainside Police Department noted that Mountainside residents needing help with signing up for this alert service can come into Police Headquarters for assistance.
If you know any residents that felt they were not receiving any information following Hurricane Sandy and want to be better prepared if another emergency hits, urge them to sign up for UC First Alert.
UC First Alert is similar to the Nixle alert system used by Summit, Springfield, Cranford,Clark and NJ State Police.