ROSELAND, NJ — Less than two weeks after begin sworn in as the new mayor of Roseland, James Spango began coordinating with Essex County and Roseland personnel to prepare the borough for what was forecasted to be a large snowfall over the weekend.
Fortunately for Spango, who also serves as a deputy chief for the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, emergency situations and interactions with the Essex County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) are second nature.
Storm preparations began Thursday evening as Department of Public Works (DPW) Superintendent Gary Schall ensured that all plows were attached to the borough’s trucks and salting trucks were filled. Roseland posted emergency notifications on its webpage and on social media so that residents had information on who to contact in the event of an emergency, such as PSEG, police and first aid squad.
Spango and John Matheis, Roseland OEM coordinator, participated on an Essex County OEM conference call hosted by County OEM Coordinator Sheriff Armando Fontoura and Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo.
Spango coordinated efforts in a meeting with Matheis and Schall as well as Captain Milden from the Roseland Police Department, Deputy Superintendent of Public Safety Chris Critchett, borough council liaison David Jacobs, Borough Administrator Maureen Chumacas and First Aid Squad Coordinator Joe Silva.
According to Spango, preparations discussed included confirming that weather briefings from the county OEM to all necessary borough personnel would be sent via Email; stressing the importance of documenting all personnel connected to the storm to ensure the ability to submit for reimbursement for overtime if the state deemed it permissible; and organizing plans to open the First Aid Squad as a warming station in the event of lost power.
Some other preparations included securing cots, food and water if needed and suspending parking on streets so that the DPW could plow the roads effectively. According to Spango, there was only one Roseland home affected by a loss of power in the Holmehill section due to a falling tree limb.
The DPW staff reported to work on 6 p.m. on Jan. 19 and began salting the streets shortly afterward. According to the DPW, snow was cleared from 10:30 p.m. on Saturday through 4 a.m. on Sunday. Salting continued on Saturday at noon to preempt icing, and spot salting was still ongoing in areas of need on Tuesday.
The borough did incur overtime costs from the DPW, totaling $3,750 for preparations and operations during the bad weather and an additional $900 from post-storm salting.
“I would like to thank DPW, police, fire, first aid and OEM for their collaboration in anticipation of the storm,” said Spango. “I am grateful to these employees and volunteers who are committed to keeping Roseland residents safe, and I thank their families, who also had to brave the storm without these public servants home to assist them. Luckily, we averted a major winter storm, but the residents should know that due to the efforts of all involved, Roseland was ready for all challenges that a major storm could have brought.”
Spango urges residents to ensure that they take storm preparedness seriously, and that they have cars fully fueled, generators and snow blowers in working condition, have cell phones fully charged, and check on neighbors and seniors regularly.
He added that in the future event of power or heat loss, residents should contact Roseland Police Department in order to get the assistance they need.
Following the storm, Stephanie Cuthbert of Remington-Vernick Engineers commented on the impact that the continuing cold weather could have on the water system in Roseland, stating that colder weather has the potential to increase the occurrence of water main breaks. She said that residents can assist in early detection by notifying the DPW if they see persistent running water in the street.
“Residents should be on the lookout for areas that do not typically have running water such as areas of sump pump discharges, etc.,” she said in a post on a Roseland community Facebook group, adding that water running freely during the cold weather is not a normal occurrence and should be reported.
“In addition, residents should check their basements and crawl spaces to make sure windows are secure. We often get calls from residents that have no water. Frequently, the issue is in their basement or crawls space where we find open windows and frozen water pipes."
Anyone who sees flowing water as described should call the DPW at 973-226-6565 or the non-emergency police phone at 973-226-8700. Non-emergency comments can also be Emailed to Spango at firstname.lastname@example.org or public works chair Roger Freda at email@example.com.