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River Edge Learns from Sandy for Future Storms

Borough officials seek to learn from Sandy on better communications during power outages

While there were no reported injuries from Hurricane Sandy battering its way through River Edge, borough officials struggled with communicating once the town went dark. Now the town will begin looking at ways for better preparation in advance of any future storms.

"We found there were some communication issues," OEM Coordinator Tom Smith said. "We thought we had a variety of ways to reach residents like NIXLE, but not everyone is set up with it. We couldn't keep the internet or phones on in the building so our communication to the residents fell apart. There are some boost type devices to give a boost to our internet signal that should eliminate that."

One thing the borough may look into is the purchase of a "God" system to replace the fire sirens. The system would allow the borough to broadcast voice messages across town through a PA system.

"It may be something we need to look into and explore," Councilman Alphonse Bartelloni said. "It's costly but it may be something worthwhile."

Prior to Sandy hitting the region, both the DPW building and garage along with Fire Company 2 were sandbagged as both locations are prone to water damage. This year, neither building suffered flooding after being impacted by Irene and the 2007 Nor'easter.

From Oct. 29 through Nov. 5, the River Edge Fire Department responded to 92 calls. According to Fire Chief John Mauthe, many of the calls received were CO2 based as residents placed generators inside garages or near open windows.

"As the power came back on, those were starting to subside," Mauthe said.

But what the borough could not prepare for in advance was wind gusts upwards of 50mph taking down approximately 70 trees. According to DPW Superintendent, 14 trees fell on houses, 10 trees became tangled in electrical wires, 31 trees that blocked streets and sidewalks, and another eight that had to be removed as they were leaning heavily.

"I'm extremely proud of the hardwork and devotion the department showed during the emergency," Lynch said. "They worked during the storm, hurricane winds and rain and never once complained or asked to go somewhere. Their support is amazing and I could not do it without their help."

The pivot arm on the five-yard dump truck snapped and is now out of commission. While scheduled to be replaced in 2014, estimated repair costs range between $3,000 to $5,000.

The Veteran's Memorial Park camp office sustained damage when a tree fell on part of the roof as well as two head walls on Elm Avenue were cracked.

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Kathi M November 08, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Loud speakers are a great idea. Years ago, hoboken had such a system and it worked to keep the public informed about emergencies, school closings etc. Hawthorne, Nj had a code via fire alarms. Each blast series represented a message. 7 blasts for school closings etc these are good ideas for the technology glitches. Sometimes the old-fashioned remedies are the most efficient.
Kathi M November 08, 2012 at 02:09 PM
One little positive in the train outage is that commuters leave parking spots for the residents. I had no idea just how many commuters parked around my house!
njdelta November 08, 2012 at 02:44 PM
I'm all for technology but what are we turning into? A god system to broadcast what? A storm is coming? High Winds approaching? School is going to close? This is ridiculous. I would expect that most of the readers can remember going to school, getting to work, living through storms....BEFORE the internet....and we all made it. DPW did a great job. Great communicating with txt msg's too with eachother. Tom Smiths suggestion of a God system is comical and should be to any Democrat, Republican, Independent, new resident, young or old.
Kathi M November 08, 2012 at 03:28 PM
I am not talking high tech---simple fire signals, which are already in place, and a few bull horns around town. Mr. Smith is on the right path
Eamon Harbord (Editor) November 08, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Just to be clear njdelta, Tom Smith did not suggest the God system. Councilman Bartelloni did. Smith merely suggested looking into a small signal booster so that OEM can still have internet access to continually send NIXLE alerts.
Alphonse Bartelloni November 08, 2012 at 04:31 PM
The God system was discussed last year as a potential replacement for our current fire alarm. It has the added benefit of being able to act as a public announcement system. It is something to think about because the main complaint people have in a time of crisis is a lack of information. Not everyone has Nixle or text messaging, especially in times of no power, and with Fios and digital cable no power means no telephone. Can people survive, sure but one thing government has an obligation to provide is information so people can then make intelligent and informed decisions.
Dorothy Pallesen November 08, 2012 at 06:44 PM
I'm proud of my town Everyone did a bang up job..People helping people. I'm glad I live here.
Debra M November 08, 2012 at 10:58 PM
My husband and I feel the same way. I actually took pictures on my block without the commuters and will take pictures when they unfortunately return. I am set to go to a council meeting to see what can be done about the commuter parking. It is getting worse and my car mirror has been taken off 4 times already.
Kathi M November 08, 2012 at 11:02 PM
I have thought about that, but they will only want to put up yet another street sign--and then the homeowner won't be able to park there either-- i don't know the answer....
Dr.Doom November 08, 2012 at 11:07 PM
what communication from town? the only communication i received "not to call 911 in case i dont have power, instead call PSEG" and "there is no garbage pick up". I would like to see the town to work on the type of information provided to residents and then figure out how to provide that info.
fluffy November 08, 2012 at 11:54 PM
No Parking between 10am and 11am, most people go to work between 7am and 9am
Kathi M November 09, 2012 at 01:43 AM
you are correct, that is why i suggested above
Alphonse Bartelloni November 09, 2012 at 03:49 AM
There were at least two, maybe three reverse 911 calls and probably 20 Nixle alerts which are text messages that you can sign up for on the Borough website, but when phones do not work and cell phones have no power or you are not tech savvy I agree you need another method, which we will explore in the coming budget year.
River Edger November 09, 2012 at 06:23 PM
You should seriously consider signing up for Nixle alerts. I received a large number of communications from the town during the storm. I did NOT, however, receive one single reverse 911 call.
Kathi M November 09, 2012 at 06:33 PM
I have nixle, river edger, but if one doesn,t have a cell phone or a charged cell, then what. I have elderly or sickly friends who don,t and cannot afford these things, as unbelievable as that may be. everyone can hear fire signals

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