November 19, 2012 at 10:59 PM
GREEN TOWNSHIP, NJ – The power outages from Superstorm Sandy were still on the minds of residents and the township committee at the Monday, Nov. 19, meeting..
Even headquarters of the Allamuchy-Green First Aid Squad was without power for 12 days. They have a generator, Captain Lou Caruso said, but it “went on the fritz.”
Fortunately, the substation in Allamuchy Township got power back quickly, Caruso said.
He said the squad parked ambulances in all three municipalities to facilitate getting to any place there might be an emergency.
“The Frelinghuysen road department opened Greendell Road so we could keep an ambulance there,” Caruso explained.
“At one point we couldn’t get to any hospital,” he said. “We couldn’t get down Route 517 to Hackettstown, and Route 94 was closed in two places,” meaning the squad could not get to Newton Medical Center either.
“Each town was an island,” he said of the three townships served by the squad, and Blairstown to the west.
One call they did answer took an hour to get to Newton, he said. To return to Green, the squad drove the ambulance all the way down Route 206 to Stanhope, and up Route 80 to Exit 19.
Mayor James Chirco said the township’s first priority was to clear the roads to make sure emergency services could get through, but it took some time. The Scenic Road Bridge is still closed, he noted.
Caruso commended the township’s senior citizen group. “They contacted every senior citizen in town by the second day. They called or went to each other’s houses.”
He also commended the Western Hills Christian Church, which held breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the outages. People who were afraid they would lose food in their freezers brought it to the church.
After each meal, church members would bring scraps to the township dumpster, and it did not take long for bears to discover the windfall.
“They hit the dumpster every night,” Caruso said.
Chirco said “the storm brought out the best and worst in people.”
He said he received nasty, and even threatening emails.
Resident Frank Fracasso complained to the committee that he was insulted by members of the fire department. He said he will take the matter up with the fire department.
The mayor said the biggest problem was communication.
The township set up a warming station in the municipal building as soon as it got power. Resident Amy Holder said she did not know about the opportunity to get warm and charge cell phones for days.
Holder reserved most of her ire for JCP&L, however. She said she called customer service and was told “not to be concerned if my pipes froze, that’s why people have homeowners insurance.”
She said she took the name of the customer service agent and complained. She also called the CEO of JCP&L’s parent company, First Energy and was told “he doesn’t speak to customers.”
She shared his phone number on social media sites. When his secretary called and asked her to remove it, she refused.
Township Clerk Linda Peralta read a letter to the committee from James Powderley, the emergency management coordinator. In it he thanked Peralta, Caruso, Fire Chief Bill Rafferty, and DPW Superintendent Watson Perigo saying they were in constant communication throughout the emergency.
He also thanked Maria Spiegler, Donna Porzilli, Charistine Licata, Patty DeClesis, and Peg Phillips, for manning the warming stations during and after the storm.
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