The Deptford Township Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at the community center has long been used by local government departments and other services to help communicate and coordinate area efforts in the event of an emergency.
“We started it about 15 years ago and we used to have it in our township building,” said Mayor Paul Medany. “It came to be too much to have in the building, and after we bought the community center, we set it up as an emergency center.
“We made it to protect our residents and keep them safe,” he added. “It is the headquarters for all the entities involved in emergencies. Each entity sends a representative to coordinate everyone’s efforts in dealing with an emergency. The EOC lets us get in contact with those involved.”
Some of those entities include the township itself, the township police department and representatives from Gloucester County.
The EOC was put to use during the 2021 tornado that was caused by Hurricane Ida. While Deptford was not hit as hard as other communities in the county, many residents were left without power, some for long periods of time.
The EOC helped the township coordinate with power companies, like PSE&G, in order to help restore power to some of the harder-hit areas in town.
“We’re tied into the National Hurricane Center and the National Weather Service in order to track storms and hurricanes,” Medany explained. “We can watch hurricanes in real time as it progresses.”
To better prepare for such emergencies, the township runs simulation drills as practice for the real deal. It has also started a Facebook page, Deptford Township Office of Emergency Management, that people can follow for updates on the best practices for emergency preparedness and communications.
The mayor has discussed the EOC in a video on his YouTube channel that was also posted to Facebook to keep residents informed. He and the township consider the EOC a success.
“It works and it (has) helped us out,” Medany noted. “We’ve coordinated our efforts (in emergencies) and it’s been successful. It all starts with communication and then we go from there with coordinating our efforts.”