WESTFIELD, NJ—Tonight, at Westfield’s council conference meeting, Michael Prasad of the Red Cross spoke to the to the town council about the free shelter training soon to become available to Westfield residents thanks to a grant from the Westfield United Fund.

In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, town officials learned that “We did a lot of things well, and a lot of things we want to do even better,” said Town Administrator Jim Gildea when he introduced Prasad. He noted that nine or 10 volunteers from Westfield were among those who helped at the Red Cross shelter that had been set up in Cranford.

Prasad said that, based on the low level of need expressed to the Red Cross by Westfield residents after Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, he believes that Westfield has a good amount of “preparedness,” which allows Westfielders to take care of themselves. What the Red Cross now hopes to give the town now is the ability to help others by teaching Westfielders how to become Red Cross volunteers who can set up and manage a shelter in Westfield in case of disasters like these.

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A Westfield Red Cross shelter would be open to all in need, Prasad explained. Training for volunteers to work at and run such a shelter will likely begin in March. For more information, call 908-232-7090 x2019. To start the training registration process, visit www.surveymonkey.com/s/westfieldready.

“This is a terrific idea,” said Mayor Andy Skibitsky, who noted that, in addition to Westfield residents who would be happy to see a shelter near their homes in the event of a disaster, Westfield is open to helping people who live outside of town.

“Westfield is a giving community,” he said.

During the town council meeting that took place later that evening, resident Tony DelDuca brought up a recent article in The Star-Ledger about New Jersey’s property taxes.

“Only Summit pays more to the county than Westfield does,” said DelDuca. And regarding school taxes, “Westfield pays the highest in the county.”

Yet, regarding municipal taxes, he “We are the lowest.”

DelDuca told the council, “Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart for spending my money very wisely.”