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Nov. 21 Hurricane Sandy Recovery Update from Westfield's Mayor

The Alternative Press Staff

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 • 8:00pm

WESTFIELD, NJ--Mayor Andy Skibitsky gave the following Hurricane Sandy update via the town's website, www.westfieldnj.gov, this evening:

First, I want to take this opportunity to again commend my fellow residents for their resilience and compassion during and after Hurricane Sandy, now known as Superstorm Sandy because of its distinction as hybrid storm, a combination Nor’easter and hurricane.  I have heard story after story of neighbors helping neighbors, one good deed after another.  Such compassion is what binds us together as a community. 

Second, it is important for residents to know that in the aftermath of the storm, the police department worked very hard to keep our town safe and secure; and, as a result, unlike other towns, Westfield did not experience any increase in criminal activity in the days following the storm.  I know residents are concerned whenever there is an extended power outage.  People feel vulnerable when the streets are dark.  Many residents left their homes vacant as they sheltered with friends or family.  Increased patrols in neighborhoods and in the downtown area, and helpful crowd control when gas rationing was ordered by the Governor, no doubt contributed significantly to the well-being of our residents and in the protection of homes and businesses.  It is reassuring to know that the police department’s pre-storm tactical plans proved so effective.

The Town’s recovery efforts in the wake of Sandy continue.  The Town is currently conducting a one-time town wide curbside cleanup of storm related organic debris, such as branches and twigs, in addition to conducting the first pass of the leaf collection program.  All hands are “on deck” as crews work simultaneously on both sides of Town, rain or shine.  To further expedite efforts, the Town has leased additional heavy equipment that increases collection and transportation capacity.  In order for our crews to systematically clear all the debris from the 380 municipal roads, they are working in the same patterned sequence as in leaf collection. A map of the Leaf Collection Zones is available on the Town’s website, www.westfieldnj.gov. Zones 1, 2, 7 and 8 have been completed.  Crews are currently working in Zones 3 and 9. The time it is taking to pick up the debris is evidence of the sheer magnitude of the task at hand - there is a massive volume of debris.  Please remember that this clean up is for organic debris such as loose branches and twigs. Due to the limitations of the town’s equipment and means of disposal, it does not include entire trees or tree trunks from private property. It remains the responsibility of private property owners to arrange for the disposal of trees from their own properties.

PSE&G crews continue to work in town to pick up utility poles and to make the necessary permanent repairs in various locations where temporary repairs were made to accelerate getting the power back online.  Comcast and Verizon are also in town addressing cabling and connectivity issues.

After seeing the devastation other communities suffered and knowing that their recovery will be a very long time coming, and knowing people in other communities lost their lives in the storm, let us never forget to count our blessings. We as a community have so much to be thankful for.  I extend my deepest best wishes to everyone for a joyful Thanksgiving holiday.

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