BYRAM TOWNSHIP, NJ - “I don’t think there is anyone here who was not affected by the storm,” said Mayor Jim Oscovitch to the public in regard to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, at Byram Township's recent town council meeting.
“I’m giving kudos to the guys on the ground, they did a great job,” said Oscovitch referring to the Jersey Central Power and Light (JCP&L) crew members who came from South Carolina to restore power in the township.
The average total for loss of power in the township was around 12 to 13 days.
“This is the best we have seen from out of town workers.The crews were all out working hard. Everyone saw and we can all agree,” said Byram Chief of Police, Ray Rafferty.
“I saw the Durango that the two police officers were in,” said councilwoman Nisha Kash. “It was amazing to see all of the devastation that had happened in Byram.”
Rafferty then explained that a tree had fallen on one of the police vehicles while two officers were inside at the time.
“By the grace of God, we are lucky that they were only injured,” said Rafferty.
Certain stories of “looting” were spread neighbor to neighbor, saying it had occurred in Cranberry Lake, a well-known section of the town.
“The acts of looting were rumors spread on Facebook,” Rafferty clarified to the public.
“There is always good and bad that rises,” addressed Oscovitch to his citizens. “DPW [Department of Public Works] did a phenomenal job opening the roads, neighbors helping neighbors, the Trunk or Treat at Lockwood Farms just brought normalcy back to life. I am proud of my neighbors and hopefully next time we will be better prepared. I hope there is no next time.”
“I think everybody did everything hands down the best that we could,” said Byram Township Manager Joseph Sabatini.
Sabatini stated that, “There was a number of a significant challenges with gas. The municipal building was on a generator for 12 days straight with no internet connectivity.”
A Facebook Page became activated, which Sabatini had used to update to citizens, hoping most could view with their smart phones.
“The storm took a big hit on our parks and forests,” said councilman Scott Olson who is also a chair member of the township's environmental committee. “New trees will grow where the old ones are. This was a terrible two weeks for Byram and these events bring out the good and the bad in people. Some people flipped off JCP&L as they drove by, while others came out with sandwiches and coffee for them.”
Olson took a brief minute to thank Sabatini and Doris Flynn, Township Clerk.
“They both made sure you [the public] had a small, warm place for election voting. It was a two day process and it was not easy.”
Due to the power outages, the towns 1, 2, 3, and 6 districts went to the Cranberry Lake Fire Department to vote for election.
Olson also made it very clear to thank Oscovitch as well.
“For the past three weeks, he [Oscovitch] had received attacks for his hard work. He is a quiet person and attacked the task rather then them.”
“I volunteered every night at the Hopatcong [High School] Shelter from November 2 to November 8,” said councilman Carlos Luaces. “I want to thank Mayor [Sylvia] Petillo for opening her doors to other towns and posing as a mother. She was highly criticized, just like Jim [Oscovitch] even though they did such hard work. So, I applaud you both.”
“A lot of good was done but a lot of bad was done,” said Byram citizen Patricia Moschella, “We did not get a phone call. You have Honeywell but only people with children in school receive that. I don’t understand why reverse 911 was not used. We had so many people in town who had no idea what was going on. I am not here to bash you but to tell you that this needs to be approved.”
Another citizen, Keri Fleming who is President of the Byram PTA stated, “I wanted to come here on a positive note. I started communicating through my smart phone, and was able to get out information that way. I would like to offer as PTA President to help get out information better if this was to ever happen again.”
In other business:
Mayor Oscovitch swore in Michael Sawicki as a member of the Byram Fire Department.
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