United Water said it had begun lowering the level of the Oradell Reservoir in advance of the heavy rainfall expected over the weekend.
"They began drawing down the reservoir level yesterday—when full, the reservoir is at 23.16; it is currently at 21.39 and still dropping," said New Milford Mayor Ann Subrizi.
Representatives for United Water met with local mayors, police chiefs and emergency management officers on Friday morning to discuss preparations for Hurricane Irene.
River Edge residents that live in flood-prone areas have been asked to voluntarily evacuate their homes in advance of Sunday's storm, including those that live in the Steuben Arms apartments.
Subrizi said United Water officials believe the heaviest rain locally will occur between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Recent rainfall has raised the water table, adding to the potential for flooding, and tides will be near record levels because of the new moon.
The New Milford mayor said the tides of the Hackensack River and the storm surge will also impact flooding as well as high winds, some forecast as high as 60 to 80 miles per hour with gusts up to 100 miles per hour.
The Oradell DPW had already begun to move its vehicles from the depot on Marginal Road to higher ground in the Oradell Swim Club parking lot as well as the lot at the Doug Parcells Athletic Complex, both located on E. Ridgewood Avenue. PSE&G was also relocating its vehicles, usually parked on Marginal Road, to the swim club parking lot.
Oradell's Office of Emergency Management sent an alert to borough residents on Thursday evening asking them to take precautions in advance of Hurricane Irene's arrival.
"The Oradell OEM, Police and Fire Departments urge all residents to prepare now for the impact of Hurricane Irene," the message said. "Put away any patio furniture, garbage cans or toys that may be blown around by high winds."
Borough officials said power outages are likely and that residents need to prepare for that possibility.
Officials in Oradell asked residents to call PSE&G if they lose power, not the police department. The PSE&G customer center can be reached at 800-436-PSEG (7734).
A regional shelter is being set up at Bergen Community College in Paramus, for those who need to evacuate because their homes are in low-lying areas, Subrizi said.
River Edge and Oradell residents should be on the lookout for further NIXLE alerts or Reverse 9-1-1 calls in the days to come.