BELMAR, NJ — Monmouth County will distribute free emergency evacuation bags to Belmar seniors and residents with disabilities on Friday, January 10 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Belmar Municipal Building.

The “Ready Go” bags contain items that are designed to help individuals decide what to take at a moment’s notice in an emergency or natural disaster. These include checklists for medical conditions and vital documents, a list of emergency contacts, emergency preparedness information for seniors, the disabled and pets, and even a magnifier in case eyeglasses are left behind.

The evacuation preparedness effort is a joint project of the Monmouth County Aging Disability Resource Connection and the Monmouth County Senior Advisory Council, in partnership with the Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Management. ” It also falls under the umbrella of Monmouth County’s ACTS (Assisting Community Through Services) initiative — a public-private partnership that promotes and enhances access to human services in the county.

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Monmouth County Freeholder Susan M. Kiley said she couldn’t help but remember how many seniors and people with disabilities were left helpless after Hurricane Sandy, which hit Monmouth County seven years ago.

“Many of Monmouth County’s 100,000 Sandy evacuees did not have the time to collect their vital documents or organize their medications when the hurricane hit,”  said Kiley, who serves as liaison to the county’s Health and Human Services Departments. “These ‘Ready-Go’ bags represent a tremendous collaborative effort to prevent that from happening again. It’s a perfect example of what Monmouth ACTS is trying to do — bring government and private organizations together to streamline our work and provide great services for every population of Monmouth County.”

The blue 14-by-18-inch canvas bags are being given out free of charge at several events in coastal communities throughout the early winter season — with Belmar being the latest stop.

Great thought went into the bag’s contents and “purposeful design,” particularly being sized for people to wear around their bodies like a messenger bag, said Sue Moleon, director of the Monmouth County Division on Aging, Disabilities and Veterans Services. “Its adjustable strap accommodates any body size, and it’s comfortable enough to keep on, sleep in and use the facilities.”

The bag latches with Velcro, making it secure but still easy to open for seniors, and a label on the front of the bag reads, “In case of emergency, this bag must accompany me to all shelters, hospitals and evacuation sites.”

To receive a bag, individuals must meet the following criteria:

  • Be enrolled in “Register Ready” with the county’s Office of Emergency Management — registration that will be available at the Belmar distribution event.
  • Be at least age 60 or disabled and in need of assistance leaving their home during an evacuation.
  • Be adult caregivers of seniors in need of evacuation assistance.
  • Be a senior who is a caregiver of a person in need of evacuation assistance.

The “Ready Go” bag distribution event on Friday, January 10 will be held in the Belmar Municipal Building courtroom, which is accessible from Sixth Avenue.

For more information on the “Ready Go” bag program, call the Office on Aging at 732-431-7450.

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