SPARTA, NJ – The township and county residents continue to work through the aftermath of the snow storm that cut power to approximately 70% of Sparta residents and more than a third of the residents in Sussex County.
Sparta High School was open on Wednesday, December 4 for residents to take showers, charge phones, warm up and use microwave ovens, according to township officials.
The Sussex County Technical High School is a Red Cross shelter open to area residents. According to Sparta Police Chief Neil Spidaletto, about 10 people made use of that facility on Tuesday with only a couple of people staying overnight.
Knoll Heights Senior Center and the Sparta Police Department Headquarters remain open as a GO2 Warming Station overnight.
The Sparta Library was open as a GO2 Warming Station until 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday night.
Spidaletto said members of the municipal CERT team have been staffing the Knoll Heights Senior Center and Sparta Library, both of which saw a lot of activity. At the police headquarters dispatchers and officers are assisting residents.
The police chief said he is working with JCP&L to try to focus on the getting the main corridors open including West Mountain Road and Glen Road for both school buses and commuters.
Sparta Township Department of Public Works employees have been working to remove trees and debris, assisting the Lake Mohawk Country Club as well as the county and state “because they just can’t get here,” according to Spidaletto.
“The DPW, fire department, ambulance squad and police have been working together as a team, making sure all shifts can be covered,” Spidaletto said. From 15 to 20 officers were on duty working to help residents at the height of activity.
Spidaletto said as of Wednesday morning the traffic lights had all been restored, relieving officers of the duty of directing traffic, allowing them to be able to help in other areas of the township. As of Wednesday morning power had been restored to Main Street, White Deer Plaza, the Theater Center and New Star Ridge impacting a large number of residents.
Having power restored at the high school while school was canceled provided the perfect opportunity to open it to residents for relief. Spidaletto said he made the request of Superintendent Michael Rossi and he agreed.
One source of frustration for the police chief has been the often casual attitude of residents to downed wires. “Electricity can be a dangerous thing,” Spidaletto said. People have been walking and driving over wires on the ground and under hanging wires. “You are not safe in your car either,” he said.
Mayor Molly Whilesmith had been in touch with Governor Murphy’s office and Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill’s office to request additional resources to help with clean up and power restoration.