By Mary Walton, Blogfinger editor
Neptune’s reception center for Hurricane Sandy evacuees had processed 40 people by 9:30 p.m. Sunday after eight hours of operation. It will close at midnight and reopen at 6 a.m. More are expected Monday as residents begin to experience the full force of the storm.
From the center, people are being transported by bus to shelters at either Monmouth University or the Arthur Brisbane center in Wall. Those in need of transportation to the high school can call the township office at 732-988-5200, extensions 230, 231, 234, 235 or 236. “People who cannot get themselves here, we will pick them up,” said Calvin Morrison of the Neptune Office of Emergency Management. He and Rosemary Gray, director of the Neptune Senior Center, are in charge of the operation.
Gray said that people needing help should arrive with enough clothing, medicine, snacks, toys for children and other items sufficient to last three days. The shelters will supply meals. Pets must arrive with a crate, food and proof of vaccination.
As evacuees trickled in Sunday, they were outnumbered by a swarm of township officials, EMT personnel and forty-eight National Guardsman in crisp camouflage fatigue uniforms, who were on the scene to handle processing and security.
Operating out of the Neptune High School lobby and gym, the center is using a new web-based system designed to report the location of evacuees at all times by means of a plastic wrist band equipped with a bar code and microchip. During Hurricane Katrina the whereabouts of many people in shelters was unknown.
The system was developed by Radiant RFID, an Austin, Texas, company which signed a five-year contract with the state of New Jersey on September 22 to supply its web-based technology. RFID stands for “Radio Frequency Identification.”
Hurricane Sandy is the first test of the system in New Jersey, and Neptune is one of three centers in Monmouth County where it is being used.
Radiant RFID operates much like package tracking. Data — name, address, date of birth and zip code — are entered into computers by trained personnel, in this case members of the National Guard. The evacuee is then handed the wristband. When boarding a bus or entering a shelter, the wristband is scanned. According to Radiant’s website, “The seamless tracking helps eliminate lines and reduce the number of times evacuees are asked for information.”