The election is right around the corner and, obviously, I have a personal interest in the outcome, but this is a time for reflection about the storm that just past us. New Milford dodged a bullet this time. I’ve only seen the devastation at the Jersey Shore from pictures in the newspaper and my heart goes out to everyone there as I hope theirs did last year for us. Even seeing the rollercoaster from Seaside sitting in the ocean, I can’t even imagine that happened down there.
I listened in on Bergen County’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) conference call on Friday, Peter Rebsch and I attended the New Milford Emergency Management meeting at noon on Saturday and we watched the 1:30 press conference that Governor held Saturday Afternoon. It seems like everyone was as
prepared as possible. In New Milford, our police and fire departments, police auxilary and ambulance corp were ready to go. I guess Hurricane Irene is still fresh in everyone’s mind.
Peter and I spent Saturday and Sunday afternoon on Columbia Street relaying the message from our OEM and from the County and Governor. Fortunately, after living through Irene last year, many people had already left their houses and the others were getting ready to go. We implored everyone who remained to leave so
as not to put our emergency personnel in harms way by having them go out in
boats to evacuate anyone during the night.
Almost everyone had moved their personal belongings and as much furniture to the second level of their houses. One smart thinking couple lined up a POD, put everything in it and had it moved to higher ground. Might seem like going overboard, but why take a chance. He also showed us the river, which is in his backyard, and it looked like a lazy river. He questioned if United Water lowered the Oradell Reservoir or not. At the OEM meeting, a graph of the water height showed that the water level was 6 feet below crest and maybe that was low enough. Peter and I also helped a few neighbors get ready for the storm. We moved one elderly lady’s outdoor furniture into her garage. We asked everyone to
secure anything that was movable so it would not go floating down the river and
then get out and go to higher ground.
What I got out of my time being there was the sense of community that is there. They have been through this a number of times and it seems like they are their own support group. People were out in the street helping each other get ready and hoping to be able to get back in after the storm. Fortunately, because of the minimal rain we received during the storm, there was little flooding and most did not even lose electricity. It became time to unpack everything.
I live on a horseshoe street off of Shea Drive. At one point, two trees down on Shea blocked access to the street. One of our DPW crews cut one so we could
get out, while the other was wrapped in wires needing PSE&G to cut power
first. As Peter and I travelled around town yesterday distributing water bottles, we came across a crew of tree trimmers from Iowa. They had been waiting near
the edge of the storm in Pennsylvania before coming to New Milford. They had just finished clearing a tree lying across Rambler Avenue and soon to go onto the next one. They told us that they had been driving or working since Monday without sleep, although a guy in one truck was fast asleep. These are the guys helping New Milford return to normalcy as quickly as possible. I have not had power since Monday evening and hope it comes back on as soon as possible.
Their help will make that happen faster.
While the natural disasters can be devastating, it does seem to create community, neighbor helping neighbor and that’s what I like about New Milford. That’s why this is where I live.
Borough Council President
Borough of New Milford