SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - South Orange Village President, Alex Torpey, met with a group of concerned citizens Thursday night to discuss the impact of Hurricane Sandy as well as the township’s response to the storm. The meeting, set up by Sheena Collum, chairperson of the Citizens’ Public Safety Committee of South Orange, was the second of six planned gatherings with members of the town’s neighborhood associations. Village Trustee Michael Goldberg was also on hand to field questions.
Torpey outlined the efforts the town had undertaken prior to the storm to prepare for it. This included an extra effort to clear the streets of leaves, starting in low-lying areas near the river and then working upward in both directions. This would aid in water drainage, should the storm bring flooding. Fortunately, there was not much water associated with Sandy in our area.
There was much disappointment expressed by the attendees of the meeting with the response of PSE&G in the wake of the storm. In addition to the length of time it took to restore power (some homes in South Orange were without electricity for 14 days), people were upset by the lack of communication from the utility company as well as the inaccuracy of their updates. Torpey said he has begun working on a plan to coordinate communications with other town governments, county and state officials and the utilities, to improve lines of communication in the future.
He is also enlisting other towns to draft legislation similar to what South Orange has done in an effort to investigate PSE&G’s response to major storms and force them to make changes as recommended by the results of that investigation.
In addressing what can be done now to be better prepared in future storms, Torpey urged people to sign up for emergency notifications to their cell phones by registering at www.southorange.org/alerts. Notifications may also be received by following the town’s official Twitter feed @SouthOrangeNJ.
There is a post-Sandy community feedback survey posted at http://southorange.org/notices.asp?guid=2c4625cb. Torpey noted, “One of the most important things we can do is get information from the people in town. This will help us make better decisions.”