SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- The Scotch Plains Township Council proclaimed September as "National Preparedness Month" at its Tuesday, Sept. 17 meeting and invited Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Coordinator Dennis VanNatta to talk about what the agency does.

VanNatta Leads team of other three other coordinators: Deputy Fire Chief Skip Paal, retired Marine Col. Kon Zonagas, and Police Officer James Richie.

The theme of the month is: Prepared. Not Scared. And the OEM's advice is:

Sign Up for Scotch Plains/Fanwood Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

  • Save Early for Disaster Costs,
  • Make a Disaster Plan,
  • Teach Youth to Prepare for Disasters ("Have a family emergency plan. Make sure your kids know and understand it.")
  • Get Involved in Community Preparedness

VanNatta suggests having enough home owners insurance, life insurance and business insurance and to have cash on hand during times of emergency.

"Take photos of your documents and personal properties and routinely take pictures of your house. It's good to show pictures -- before and after (damage occurs)," VanNatta said, adding: "Cash is king. ATMs don't work when we lose power." 

Businesses should have a business disaster plan.

"Plan to stay in business. Talk to your people. Make sure they are prepared," he said. "Do they have enough medication? Do you have food and snacks for them?"

VanNatta explained: "Everything we do is a whole community approach. It takes a whole community to be prepared. 

To communicated, the OEM chief suggests emailing, downloading the FEMA app, and siging up for First Alert. The Township of Scotch Plains has transitioned from CodeRed to EverBridge, officially branded as Union County First Alert, for its emergency notification system. To continue receiving emergency notifications you will have to register for the system. 

What does the Scotch Plains OEM do?

  • Coordinate Emergency Management activities for the Township of Scotch Plains.
  • Maintain and update the Township’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, Hazards Vulnerability Analysis, and Hazard Mitigation Plan.
  • Activate and staff the Township’s Emergency Operations Center.
  • Coordinate for local, state, and federal government response and recovery operations during a major emergency or disaster.
  • Maintain and operate the Township’s Emergency Operations Center.
  • Monitor severe weather watches, warnings, and special statements issued by the National Weather Service and provide this information to other local government departments including Police, Fire EMS and Public Works and Township Leadership and department heads.
  • Serve as the Chairman of the Local Emergency Preparedness Committee (LEPC).
  • Provide assistance and support to all public safety agencies, government entities, and private sector partners through planning, training, and exercising.
  • Coordinate resource support to the on scene Incident Commanders when requested.
  • Provide continuity of Operations Planning information and guidance.

For more information, visit is Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s only free daily local news source. Sign up for our free daily eNewsletter and “Like” us on Facebook and twitter @SPF_TAP. Download the free TAPinto App for iPhone or Android.