What Did You Think of Mahwah’s Response To Sandy?
Township plans post-storm analysis to see what it, and Orange & Rockland, could have done better
Township officials are planning a meeting and possible public hearing to assess what went well during its response to Hurricane Sandy, and what should be done better during future emergency situations. The mayor and town council discussed what they called a “gap analysis” of the storm response at a council meeting Thursday night.
All commended the work of Mahwah’s responders – the police department, fire department, ambulance, EMS, Office of Emergency Management, emergency response teams, DPW and CERT – both during and after the storm. They also thanked the numerous volunteerswho helped coordinate events after the storm, and neighbors who helped one another get through prolonged power outages.
The council also noted that communication from the township to the residents, via reverse 911 phone calls and the new Nixle text message and email alert system, was good. However, Councilman Roy Larson suggested better utilizing the township’s website to post updates, noting that nearby towns posted updates more frequently than Mahwah did.
Councilman Sam Alderisio noted that community events organized before and after the storm for residents, like handing out free donated sandbags before Sandy hit, and after organizing a free lunch and football at the police station, pizza party for kids at the senior center and trunk-or-treat at town hall, were “really nice ways to reach out to the community.”
Mayor Bill Laforet estimated that 3,000 residents attended the trunk-or-treat, saying it may have been the “biggest community gathering ever in Mahwah.”
The council also noted the help that was available to residents who needed it - like a cell phone recharging station at police headquarters and restroom and shower facilities at Ramapo College.
However, not all the critiques were positive. Laforet said he hopes to have a meeting or public hearing with Orange & Rockland to discuss what he said were “shortfalls” in their response to the storm. “We were disappointed [with aspects of O&R’s response to the storm], and we want to hold them accountable for that,” he said.
Council President John Spiech also said the township‘s department heads will meet for a third time to discuss what the township could have done better during and after the storm. The group met twice already – a few days before the storm and the day before the storm hit – to plan out its response.
Before the gap analysis can take place, Laforet noted the “job is not done. We cannot declare success until every resident has power back.” As of Friday morning, over 100 in Mahwah were still without.
So, Patch wants to know, what did you think of the town’s response to Sandy?