Hopatcong Borough 'In Devastation Mode': Hurricane Sandy Update For Sussex County
Thursday, November 1, 2012 • 9:55am
SUSSEX COUNTY, NJ – In the wake of the devastation, some Sussex County municipalities are still totally in the dark, and dealing with very severe issues.
One of these towns is Hopatcong Borough. “The town by the lake,” as it is often known, has had major difficulties in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
“We’re in devastation mode,” said Hopatcong Borough Councilwoman, Marie Galate, who The Alternative Press was able to connect with by phone last night.
Phone service, and Internet for the town has been down since the storm, Galate said, where 62 telephone poles alone were snapped during Hurricane Sandy, she said.
Cell phone service, Galate said, has also been intermittent for residents.
“The entire town is out of power, even the firehouse,” Galate said.
Galate had spent the day helping to serve meals to, and help residents at Hopatcong High School, where a shelter is set up, and, currently 140 people from the borough displaced by Sandy’s effects, are staying.
Galate said The Red Cross is there, and high school cafeteria staff is there as well assisting with meal preparations. The Red Cross will be providing two meals daily, and the cafeteria staff, one.
The shelter, according to Galate, has enough beds, and, will obtain more if there is a need. There is an activity room set up where residents are playing board games, cards, and knitting, and, a play area set up for the children. In addition to meals, hot showers, and a place to stay, residents can, Galate said, simply stop by to warm up, eat, and grab a shower.
“It’s hard to get the word out that the shelter is open,” Galate added.
Due to the severe issues with the telephone system from Hurricane Sandy, Hopatcong Borough’s Reverse 9-1-1 is down.
“I’ve never seen anything like this hit Hopatcong,” Galate, who has been a lifetime resident, remarked.
She said there was an event for the senior citizens that required cancellation, with no way to reach them by phone, and, Galate and others went out in person to check on seniors, and, alert them to the cancelled event.
As JCP&L continues to assess the situation in Hopatcong Borough, and, Galate said, has been there consistently, should be able to complete the assessment in the next day or two, and the borough does not yet have an estimated time frame as to when the power will be restored.
Galate is concerned for residents in their homes, as well as those with generators.
“Fuel has become very scarce, and, some stations only allow a $10 maximum,” Galate said. “That’s only maybe a couple days worth of fuel for a generator.”
The damages, Galate said, to the borough, as well as to many properties there, has been extraordinarily shocking.
“We had phenomenal wind damage,” Galate added.
She reported one home had its front façade missing, and reminded her of the side of a child’s dollhouse where a child would be able to play, and move around the house’s furniture.
“We’re dealing with a lot, and, trying to get the message out,” as a community, Hopatcong is pulling together.”
What she asked mainly communicated, is for residents to know the shelter is open.
“If they can get to the high school, the shelter is there for them,” she said. “There are phenomenal obstructions in the roadways, and there are no direct routes. There are some impassible areas.”
From Galate’s own experiences, she had difficulties navigating through Hopatcong, and experienced many detours. She also said she has had problems with her own cell phone, and many residents are unable to even access the Internet from their phones. She said those living in Hopatcong are feeling very out of touch at the moment, unable to retrieve any news information, except something from an occasional email message sporadically retrieved from cell phones, or, word of mouth.
“We are doing the best that we can with what we have,” Galate said.
Surrounding municipalities, Galate said, Stanhope and Roxbury, are also without power.
To rectify the communication situation, Galate said, attempts have been made with Ethernet cards, but have had no success.
“Police and fire are doing everything old school,” she added.
Residents who who require assistance, can reach out to officer Bob Haffner at the Hopatcong Police Department at (973) 398-5000, Galate said.
In spite of the difficulties, Galate is still looking at the positives.
“We are truly blessed to be able to serve our residents with heat, food, and shelter,” Galate said. “We still have all of our residents. We are very fortunate.”
As of 9:11 a.m. today, JCP&L reports 74 percent of their customers are affected countywide, equaling 42,460 residents. Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative reported at 8:15 a.m. it had 1,837 members still without power.
How To Help
There are ways to help Sussex County residents in affected areas. The Red Cross notified United Way email subscribers, they are enlisting “Spontaneous Volunteers.”
The following email from Kaitlin Bessemer, volunteer manager, details how below:
With the size of our disaster relief efforts, we will be taking Spontaneous Volunteers (for those not familiar with the term, these are volunteers who are not Red Cross trained, but willing to help during the time of need). For anyone in the community looking to volunteer at an American Red Cross shelter, please take their Name, Phone Number & E-mail address and get that information to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. With the assistance of administrative volunteers in the office, I will be getting the necessary paperwork completed by each individual and there will be a mass training to take place in the North Bergen area. Training details have not yet been announced.
Thank you all for your assistance. It is great to see the community coming together!
Blood, Youth & Volunteer Services
American Red Cross
North Jersey Region
93 Spring Street, Suite 101, Newton
115 Greenwich Street, Belvidere
Still Without Power? Places To Go If Needed, Or Assistance Provided
- Residents are still facing long lines for gasoline, limited stations open (the Exxon on Route 206 in Andover Township is currently open, but only accepting cash, and readers have noted, with a line a mile long; also, the gas station in Ogdensburg is also confirmed open, but with a line about a half a mile; this is typical throughout the county), and, the possibility of stations around the county running out of fuel at those locations. According to a report on the county website, coming directly from the Governor's Office (click here to view), Governor Christopher Christie is making provisions to boost fuel supplies, and temporarily permitting supplies to be purchased from out-of-state suppliers.
- JCP&L customers without power can obtain water and ice at Sussex County Community College from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., tomorrow, according to the county's website.
- Yesterday, Sparta Police Department posted on its Facebook Page, “Volunteers from the Sparta Evangelical Free Church in Sparta are willing to help clear downed small trees or limbs from private residences. Any request for this type of assistance should be made directly to 973-300-1717 x12. Please insure that any request for this service does not involve any wires.”
- A reader of The Alternative Press, Gregg Boonstra, alerted The Alternative Press yesterday, Christ Community Church at 274 Spring Street in Newton (in the building which looks like a train station, and next to Camp Iliff), has its doors open to help. The church is continuing to assist residents today as well. “Christ Community Church has opened their café to anyone who wants hot free coffee, warmth, and TV. They can charge their electronics, access the internet, and there are some limited cooking abilities. Everyone is welcome and it’s free,” Boonstra said.
- Boonstra, who has a business as well at 274 Spring Street, Vertical Vision (located next to the George Michael Salon), has his office open for anyone seeking a place to work out of.
- Sussex County Chamber of Commerce has offered its members a place to charge their cell phones, and other electronic devices, access the Internet, grab a cup of coffee, and, warm up at the chamber office. The office is located in the Chase Bank Building on Route 206 in Hampton, next to Toyota World, and, open from 8:00 a.m., to 4:00 p.m.
- Several local police departments posted on Facebook yesterday, "For those still without power the Sussex County YMCA has again stepped up to help out its neighbors. Those in need can go there and take a shower without charge, no membership required. Sussex YMCA,15 Wits End Drive, Hamburg, NJ 07419, (973) 209-9622."
- For The Alternative Press readers seeking accommodations, hotels.com has blocked out eight rooms at a group rate for our readers, $83/King Room/pets allowed/breakfast included, at the Pocono Inn in Stroudsberg, Pa. Contact Alberto Garcia, the representative from hotels.com directly at: AlGarcia@hotels.com.
Continue to follow The Alternative Press for post-storm coverage, and The Alternative Press of Sussex County’s Facebook Page for news and information.