STANHOPE BOROUGH, NJ --- “You would have never imagined that in 2012 people would be running around trying to figure out where to charge their electronics,” said borough administrator, Brian McNeilly at the recent Stanhope Borough Council Meeting.
“The ability to get information out to the public as much as possible was a challenge,” stated McNeilly.
“You learn something about every event,” said councilwoman Diana Kuncken.
The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy caused so much damage, that it had marked Sussex County in a category for FEMA assistance.
Stanhope was one of the many municipalities in Sussex County that did not have power for a total of 10 to 12 days.
The council discussed using a trusted system called “Nixle,” to release information to the public through a text message or phone call.
Stanhope’s neighboring town, Netcong Borough, had used the system during the storm to reach out to its residents.
“It was a life saver,” McNeilly said to the council.
“It is used in a lot of places in South Jersey,” said Mayor Rosemarie Maio. “It is a text and a phone call. You go on the site and sign up for free. It costs $1,795 a year for municipalities.”
Maio also stated that, “It does not just have to be used for emergencies, it can be used to release information,” in regard to events which the town holds annually.
“If you’re keeping an eye on a relative [in another town], you can get a text from that community as well,” said McNeilly.
“Virtually, you can get a text message no matter what kind of phone you have,” said Kuncken, as she picked up her cell phone which is an older model and laughed, “People were struggling to at least keep their phones charged.”
“It is not something that we have to teach people to use, they just sign up for it,” stated Maio.
The Nixle system can also notify residents by location, road closings, and if a situation occurs in an immediate area.
As of this moment, this council strongly agreed in going forth with the Nixle system; the decision will be made by the first of January 2013.
Kuncken and Maio also expressed the situation of government getting involved during a crisis.
“We as a small community need to do more, restrictions are holding us back,” said Kuncken.
The councilwomen were referencing only being able to give residents pre-packaged and nonperishable goods during the span of the storm.
“If we want to cook hams and have a ham dinner for our residents, I don’t think the government should get involved in this,” said Maio.
Maio then stated, “There is a long list of what to do if we ever need to do it again.”
In other business:
Diana Kuncken was re-elected as councilwoman and sworn under oath by borough attorney, Richard Stein.