Dear Editor:
As we recover from this week's devastating storm tropical storm Isaias, I want to personally thank to the Scotch Plains Office of Emergency Management, our first responders, the DPW, the Manager's Office, and PSE&G for preparing us for and doing a great job in getting us through this past week.
Although the storm was brief, PSE&G described it as "among the strongest storms to hit our service territory in recent years." At one point there were approximately 4,500 residents in Scotch Plains without power and over a dozen streets that were closed due to downed power lines or trees.
On the Saturday after the storm, Councilman Spera and I walked the Church Street area of town, one the hardest hit, and one of the last to be restored to power. We spoke with many residents about their storm experience and what the municipality might do better to communicate to and help residents the next time we have such an event.
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I believe we must be continuously improving our storm response as technology evolves. When Hurricane Sandy hit eight years ago, smartphones and Facebook were not as integrated into our daily life as they are now, and many residents, especially our older ones, had to rely on our TV station for updates. Today, most people get their news from the online sites like Facebook, but in five years, who knows? It’s our job to stay current with the times and I intend to ensure our township does that.
Finally, I want to remind people that the storm-related branch pickup we held this week starting August 10th, will not be the last of the year. It was a long-time goal of mine to add an additional branch pickup in the fall to compliment the one we’ve traditionally had in the spring. This will help branches from mixing with leaves and slowing down leaf pickup time and blocking rain runoff along the curb. I am happy to report that this week’s ad hoc branch pickup will not replace the new fall one the town has made part of its ongoing annual schedule. 
Please be safe. 
Al Smith
Mayor of Scotch Plains