In an informal get together at his residence, Mayor Accardi sat down with residents and offered more detail on the upcoming storm and the preparations made by the municipality as well as precautions that residents should take. The mayor started by giving the latest information with regard to the weather forecast and the state of emergency declared earlier in the day by Governor Chris Christie. The storm, which is currently classified as Hurricane Sandy, is expected to hit New Jersey between 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Monday. This will bring a strong surge to our area and cause flooding.
“What I intend to do is to take these weather reports beginning tomorrow and update my Facebook page (link) as the storm gets closer to us,” the mayor stated after reading from various source. He then said, “It looks like right now the worst possible scenario is what’s developing.”
Mayor Accardi continued, “The fact that it’s hitting us from the south so close to us causes an enormous problem. That’s further complicated by the fact that it will be a full moon and high tide when the storm surge hits.”
He recalled how Tropical Storm Irene last year had similar conditions which prevented water from flowing outward towards the ocean. The mayor then mentioned that this year an additional aggravating factor is that there are leaves on the ground which could clog up municipal storm drains.
“I’m just asking everybody to be aware of that and try and get as many leaves away from the storm drains aw possible. It’s really important. You’re helping yourself. Your helping your neighbors out by preventing flooding as a result of water that’s not flowing properly,” Mayor Accardi commented.
Information was provided by the mayor that the municipality had started preparing from Friday afternoon with Police Chief Morrison speaking and coordinating with all emergency services. With regard to preparations, the mayor stated, “From everything that I’m hearing, we are going to get hit hard. There will be some damage and there will be some flooding. So I’m asking people to start preparing for that now. Start preparing your houses. There might be power outages.”
The possibility of power outages was addressed with the mayor citing the major cause as fallen tree limbs, even though limbs have been trimmed throughout the borough. He added that residents should prepare themselves in the event that they go five to seven days to go without power. Recommendations included stocking up on canned goods, a manual can opener, water, a portable radio, a car charger for cell phones, and a source of independent power such as a generator. Residents should communicate with neighbors, the mayor said, to see if power and/or a generator could be shared for necessary uses such as a refrigerator or a sump pump.
“Make sure you have flashlights,” Mayor Accardi remarked, “Don’t use candles in your house, please. One of the biggest dangers in the house after a storm is a fire from candles or an explosion from using candles if the gas is leaking into your house as a result of the pilot light going out.”
People were asked to remove their vehicles from streets due to curbs being the lowest point of any neighborhood which could flood the car and the possibility of tree limbs coming down. the mayor reiterated what Police Chief Morrison announced yesterday that all municipal parking lots will be open for people to park their vehicles in during the storm.
In case power goes out, Mayor Accardi asked that residents do not call the police because they will not be able to help. Instead, residents should contact PSE&G at (800) 436-7734. He recounted that during Tropical Storm Irene, there was such a surge of phone calls to the police department that emergency calls could not get through. He stressed that life-threatening emergencies still need to be called through 9-1-1 but that non-life threatening emergencies should be called through (908) 245-2300. The phone numbers of the governing body were also provided:
|Police (Non-Emergency)||(908) 245-2300|
|PSE&G||(800) 436-PSEG (7734)|
|Mayor Joseph Accardi||(908) 468-4666|
|1st Ward Council Andrew Casais||(732) 221-1345|
|2nd Ward Council Scott Nicol||(908) 279-4896|
|3rd Ward Council Tanya Torres||(908) 477-6412|
|4th Ward Council Modesto Miranda||(908) 247-8384|
|5th Ward Council Michael Yakubov||(973) 342-7730|
|Council-At-Large Carl Hokanson||(908) 966-7852|
|Borough Hall||(908) 245-6222|
Additionally, the mayor addressed requests for pumping out residents’ homes, “If your basement starts flooding, we can’t pump everybody’s basement out. It’s not going to be something that this town will to do. We have never done that. We don’t have the resources to do it and we incur legal liability for doing it so if your basement starts flooding, the best thing to do is to start requesting assistance from your neighbor.”
The mayor then notified residents of what steps the municipality has taken departments in preparation which included that Department of Public Works (BPW) clearing debris from the retention basins, attempting to clear the storm drains located in known flood-prone areas, and removing leaves and derbis found inside the storm drains. They will continue doing that throughout the weekend and they will try to go downstream and check out the creek between East Grant Avenue and East Clay Avenue as well as the one located off of Westfield Avenue leading to Roselle. The DPW will try to remove any leaves but residents should not count on that happening, the mayor stated, citing that one of the problems currently is that residents are taking leaves and blowing them from their lawns into the street. He asked that residents bag the leaves or move them away from the storm drains and curbs.
The next topic of discussion was the pre-positioning of barricades by the RPPD and DPW to start blocking certain streets starting Monday.
“Please do not drive down a street that is barricaded,” Mayor Accardi stressed, “If you live in that neighbor and you feel the need to go down there I recommend that you take a look – if there’s a police officer around – confirm that you are allowed down the street and if not, figure out another way to get into your house. If you can park your car on a high point and walk to your house, that might be the best idea. There’s a reason why that barricade is there.”
Residents are asked to remain in their house and not drive in any flooded area since cars might get stall or a vehicle might cause a surge and flood residents on that block.
Emergency service such as the fire department and first aid will be working in a rotation to provide ample service for the duration of the storm which is expected to last two days. The Roselle Park Middle School will be established as the local emergency center.
The mayor then answered questions from those in attendance.
He was first asked if the schools would remain open and he responded that the schools are handled by the Board Of Education (BOE) but that the BOE would use a robo-call to notify parents and guardians in such an event.
Asked if the municipality would be supplying sand or sand bags, the mayor responded that sandbags are only provided for the emergency operation center but that residents could purchase bags of top soil which could be a viable alternative.
A residents asked if the borough will provide generators. The mayor stated that although such a measure was considered during the budget process, the cost would be so great that the municipality cannot do that. Mayor Accardi said he spoke with contractor last year during the storms that used generators for their businesses and they provided generators that he then loaned to specific neighborhoods that had long-term power outages or residents who were elderly and ill that needed power for life-saving equipment. Although he could not guarantee that the same thing would happen this year, he stated that he would reach out to contractors again.
When asked if the fire department enters a house to turn off gas or power lines, the mayor responded that emergency services will do so in every situation where the basements are flooded to the point where the health and safety of the neighborhood is at risk.
In regard to a question concerning the amount of running water that will be available, Mayor Accardi said that most of the water in the borough is gravity fed. A water tower pressure feeds the water supply but the problem is that if there is no way to resupply the water, it could become an issue.
“You might want to consider purchasing water bottles to drink, fill up your tub for running water,” he recommended.
Another resident asked about pets and the mayor answered that residents who are pet owners should make arrangement before hand or, at the very least, notify the authorities of the pet in case of an evacuation.
The question was asked what the predicted amount of rainfall was for this storm. According to the sources used by the mayor, at this point Roselle Park is considered to be north of the eye of the storm and rainfall is estimated to be between 12 to 16 inches with the addition of high tide and a full moon possibly increasing those levels.
Finally, the mayor stated that no decisions have been made with regard to the Annual Roselle Park Bender Avenue Halloween Event and that a decision will be made next week.
“I really do hope that this is much ado about nothing and that we’re making a lot of preparations and a lot of fuss about nothing. That would be my preference,” Mayor Accardi concluded, “I hope that a week from now everybody’s laughing about the fact that I posted on my Facebook page that this is going to be a ‘Frankenstorm’. I really hope that. I just don’t know if that’s going to be the case.”
In collaboration with The Concerned Citizens Of Roselle Park and with the cooperation of the mayor, a video of the information session is available to be viewed, in its entirety, below: