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School District Honors Crews, Firefighters for Sandy Response

School buildings were used as shelters for residents and fire crews after storm

Firefighters and school personnel were honored for their contributions as Toms River dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. 

The district has been recognizing those who contributed their time and effort to the Sandy response. Building management and police officers were among those already honored, and Tuesday night the Board of Education recognized more of what the district calls "Hurricane Heroes."

"We felt it was worthwhile to try to sing the praises of all the people who contributed during this difficult time," said Superintendent of Schools Frank Roselli. "The people who came to work during this hurricane are really people who put others before themselves, before their families."

Roselli said that school crews, including maintenance, custodial and cafeteria staff, worked "tirelessly" to ensure that those displaced residents staying in shelters provided in district buildings had the necessary supplies. 

Staff were honored for keeping generator power running, ensuring safety at bus stops when students prepared to return to school, and serving meals to residents whose homes were destroyed by the storm. 

"You should be proud of every employee you have," said Toms River Councilman Brian Kubiel, who serves as the Law and Public Safety Committee Chairman.

School officials worked "side by side" with emergency responders in the wake of Sandy, Kubiel said. Schools became temporary staging areas for the battered Silverton and East Dover fire companies. In addition, about 3,000 residents were sheltered in Toms River schools following the storm. 

A large contingent of Toms River fire company members appeared before the board to receive their recognition. Leaders spoke about the challenges Sandy posed and the selflessness of their members. 

"This storm is unlike any other storm," said Toms River District 1 Fire Chief John H. Lightbody. "This is our Katrina."

"We did not expect what hit us," said Capt. Michael Cocco of the Silverton Volunteer Fire Company. His department, like the others throughout the township, saw a surge of calls for help in the days following Sandy. Members dealing with devastation at home nonetheless hit the flooded streets to help their neighbors. 

"The fire service is a team unlike any other," said fire prevention Director James Mercready, who said he holds his relationship with the school district "dear."

"We get our strength through unity," he said.

School board President Ben Giovine thanked all those who helped with the storm recovery and noted it is something that will stay with residents for some time.

"We have our community living with this still day to day," he said. 

Martin January 16, 2013 at 01:08 PM
School district was outstanding during the storm recovery, as were the township police, fire and public works employees -- unlike the uncommunicative TR politicians.
CHANGE_TR January 16, 2013 at 01:23 PM
I have so much respect for our volunteer Fire Departments...they sacrificed so much of their time to help others and continually recieve little to nothing in return. Hard to compare that to other public employees who were getting paid continual overtime.
St Joes member January 16, 2013 at 01:25 PM
Especially Margaret Donnelly from TRRS transportation! She was there 24/7 from day 1 with compassion & empathy for all!
usmc January 16, 2013 at 01:43 PM
A lot of great people helped out their fellow neighbors. My thanks go out to them. I would also like to point out that the help of many many Boy Scouts and their Leaders of Toms River and the Toms River Cert Team, which are all volunteers, ensured the shelters at TR High School North and East were set up and manned 24 hours a day. Many thanks go out to these people.
Mary Malagiere January 16, 2013 at 02:45 PM
A glaring 'missing recognition' in this article are our teachers, who I know were front and center from day one...meeting and calling students, families, offering assistance and support to one and all! My hat is off to our teachers who worked tirelessly, without any compensation nor recognition, and continued to work tirelessly supporting our students and our families while the schools were closed and continue to do so today!
Gregory Kyriakakis (Editor) January 16, 2013 at 03:17 PM
Thank you, Mary. Feel free to highlight anyone else who went above and beyond during the storm!
1stcav January 16, 2013 at 04:12 PM
American Legion post 129, who gave a warm place to go and a hot meal and rest for those who needed it.....Fellow members reaching out and helping there comrades in arms on a personnel basis after fighting on the fields of battle..Thank you Vets for stepping up once again when being called to duty..National Guards..many thanks for guarding our shores....and towns.....
jennifer January 16, 2013 at 04:29 PM
There are MANY people who are not mentioned in this article but yet they helped tirelessly without stopping and continue to help. Their kindness, sacrifice, concern, love and a helping hand will be forever appreciated and be remember by the individual they helped. Its the people who were not expected to help ~ its the person who helped without the hope of pomp and circumstance, they are hero's too. There humility and service is welcomed and will be honored in memories to those they helped. Thank you to all the UNSUNG heros who helped their neighbors and who will continue to show kindness and care for the long haul. Thank you to ALL the people from around the country who on their own "dime" came to the Jersey Shore and volunteered and worked with the relief efforts. Thank you. That should be the next article you write Greg, an article about the UNSUNG hero's.
Betty Boop January 17, 2013 at 12:13 AM
This hero stuff is a bit much since 9/11. People volunteer and now they are hero's. I don't think so. I volunteered, so what. I enjoy it.
Mr. ? January 17, 2013 at 01:58 AM
Istcav, Jennifer, and Betty B well said! Yes the firefighters did what they love to do and that is save and help people - what they volunteer for. This awarding of honors to specific groups is getting old and the sensationalism is also going to far. Each and every individual who has helped another, in any way is just as important and no less important. As said the unsung heroes, but just good people!
jennifer January 17, 2013 at 03:28 AM
Betty boop, I saw many volunteers jump into action the day after the storm rescuing people who were stranded in thier homes in boats canoes and even paddle boats. To me that's a hero - they risked potential harm but jumped in the boat anyway.
barbara January 17, 2013 at 03:38 AM
Maybe the term "hero" is tossed around freely, but I would rather see it used for someone who actually helped people rather than the way it's used to describe a sports personality or a Hollywood type. And thanks to everyone who pitched in and helped out in any way. Even the smallest gestures were appreciated. I had neighbors bring milk over to my kids because they weren't sure I was able to get to a store. A little thing in the midst of an emergency, but it meant so much.
Betty Boop January 17, 2013 at 04:03 AM
That's not a hero in my book. Just giving a helping hand. That's it. I do things like that all the time and I don't consider myself a hero. The term HERO is overused these days. Someone who saves a life, delivers a baby on the side of the road, etc are heros. A firefighter who goes to a house fire to put it out is NOT a hero, he is doing his job. A police officer responding to a call is NOT a hero, he is doing his job.
EMT January 17, 2013 at 05:54 AM
I guess the CSO's and township Volunteer EMS Squads did nothing during the storms. Then again who actually cares for EMS? Toms River doesnt.
Betty Boop January 17, 2013 at 03:47 PM
Why do people who VOLUNTEER for things feel they need to be recognized for doing something they volunteered for? I don't get it.
CHANGE_TR January 18, 2013 at 01:05 PM
Betty Boop...you clearly have no idea what you are talking about and I feel sorry for your stupidity. I have many friends who have nearly lost their lives putting out fires. If you think putting out a fire is no big deal then don't bother calling and handle it yourself.

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