October 29 Snow Storm - Most of Demarest lost power during the recent storm. Communication to the electronic sign was lost for a period, two reverse 911 calls were made to residents, I contracted (at my own expense) for a public service announcement to be delivered by phone but unfortunately, the contracted company attorneys deemed it was subject to the national do-not-call list so very few homes received the call. Our police chief and I were in contact with Rockland Electric officials throughout the week. The week after the storm I personally took 2 ˝ days of vacation from my full-time job to address the concerns of the Borough residents and businesses and to keep in contact with all those involved with restoring power.
Demarest, through its Police Department and Office of Emergency Management has emergency response plans which were put in place during the power outage. We fielded many calls regarding power outages; fortunately, we had only a couple of calls informing us of a person who may have needed special assistance.
I thank you for your patience as we addressed power outages and branch pickup. In the four hours I spent chipping branches with our public works employees, we were able to clear only parts of two streets. In addition to the volume of material, we have to deal with branches mixed with leaf piles and branches intertwined with each other, not to mention large-sized logs. It is important to note that we have over 27 miles of roads in town. The first priorities were concentrating efforts on primary roads, roads near schools and roads that are narrow to begin with. Please try to keep branches and piles of leaves separate as mixing them takes longer to collect and can present a safety hazard for our public works employees.
To deal with the extraordinary amount of tree limbs, we have authorized overtime, hired contractors to assist in the clearing, purchased a new, more efficient chipper and requested assistance from Bergen County. We have cleared many roads of branches only to have some of those same roadsides piled with additional branches.
I have spoken with our police chief and Police Committee Chairman Councilman Gray and asked that the police and the committee meet to go over what and how we could do better, especially in communications. Ironically, calls and emails to residents may not have served those who needed it most, those without phone service and/or electricity. Rockland Electric did respond in a timely manner to most of our requests, but there were instances where there was a lack of progress and communication between their operations and contractors was woefully inadequate. We will discuss this further with Rockland Electric officials.
I acknowledge and heartily thank our employees, especially our Public Works employees, and our many volunteers on the Ambulance Corps, Fire Department and Community Emergency Response Team for all their hard work and dedication during and after this emergency. Every emergency call was attended to and plans were in place to respond to all requests for assistance.
I personally received many phone calls, emails and text messages during the week of Oct. 31 and continue to receive inquiries. I attempted to respond to each and every one, although there were a few phone numbers where I could not leave a message. I have your concerns and suggestions so we can collectively work on improving what we have in place in cases of emergency and we will implement improvements in a timely manner. Again, thank you for the respect shown to all who were working to restore power and clear our streets.