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Local Emergency Services On Sandy: Winds Made For Dangerous Conditions

Winds caused PSE&G to pull their repair crews and kept emergency services working through the night responding to calls of downed trees and wires.

During Monday's tropical storm Sandy, New Milford's police desk answered over 100 calls reporting fallen trees and large branches, downed poles and wires, and transformer explosions, Police Chief Frank Papapietro reported to Patch. Papapietro also heads the Borough's Emergency Services.

"I've weathered many storms," Papapietro said. "But that wind was the most dangerous I have ever seen."

So dangerous, in fact, that during the height of the storm Papapietro made the decision to direct his patrol cars to find a safe place within their sector to park and not drive unless responding to a call.

"Everyone's safety was my top priority last night," Papapietro said. "Including that of my patrol crew on the road."

"I wanted to make sure that everyone got home safely to their families."

As of Tuesday morning Papapietro said there have been no reports of any homes flooding, though officials are watching the morning high tide.

Papapietro reported that the New Milford Fire Department responded to numerous calls of downed wires and brush fires caused by transformer explosions.

"The job done by New Milford's emergency services was phenomenal," Papapietro said. "They ran all night long, non-stop through the morning."

New Milford's rescue boat was called into service Monday evening to assist Carlstadt in evacuating residents from their homes due to flooding. The flooding was reportedly caused by a levee that failed to hold back the Hackensack River after Sandy's storm surge.

Also working around the clock was the DPW. They will be focusing on clearing the roads Tuesday, many of which are filled with downed trees and large branches.

Papapietro deployed the Auxiliary Police Monday to assist with road closures and protect the areas around downed wires so that no passing pedestrian or driver was injured.

According to Papapietro, approximately 50 residents self-evacuated before the storm and police were assigned to secure those areas.

In addition to answering storm-related calls, Papapietro said that police responded to a psychiatric emergency and a domestic dispute. New Milford Volunteer Ambulance Corps also responded to EMS calls unrelated to the storm, as well.

The only reported casualty of the night was a deer who found its way to Reichelt Road. According to Papapietro, a falling limb must have startled it because it ran into the street from the back area of Brookchester and right into one of the passing patrol cars. The officer driving was not injured.

Debris on the road also punctured the radiator of a patrol car.

Because the roads remain unsafe, and tonight is Mischief Night, Papapietro is advising parents to keep their children at home.

"There are a lot of downed trees and wires that make for very dangerous conditions," he said.

Papapietro also wants to remind parents that the 8pm curfew he issued last week for Mischief Night and Halloween, in light of the recent luring events, is still in effect. After 8pm anyone on the street under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult at least 21-years old.

Those under 18 not accompanied by an adult over 21-years old will be transported to Police Headquarters where a responsible adult over 21-years old will be notified to take custody.

GET POST-STORM UPDATES: Follow Patch on TwitterFacebook and click to sign up for Breaking News Alerts. News tip or photos? E-mail annpiccirillo@yahoo.com.

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