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Township Council Addresses Sandy Response

Officials plan to meet to assess storm response and determine what, if anything, should change

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Manchester officials discussed how the township handled the storm and said they plan to hold a meeting to determine what worked and what could be done better should severe weather again impact the area.

Members of the Township Council on Monday praised the efforts of police, public works and emergency volunteers who responded following the storm that devastated parts of New Jersey.

"They did a great effort," said council President Craig Wallis, who attended the meeting through telephone. "They were out there the whole time." 

While some neighboring communities experienced severe damage that destroyed homes and displaced families, Manchester mostly dealt with downed trees and powerlines and days-long electricity outages. 

Business Administrator Elena Zsoldos added her appreciation for the work done by "all of our employees — police, fire, first aid — they were all wonderful during this storm," she said.

Additionally, Wallis said that "many" residents stepped up to volunteer their time to help others.

"So I'm definitely thankful to them. It was a large impact on our community and we made it through, mostly, pretty well," he said.

Whiting resident Tom Gilligan said during the meeting's public comment portion that while he appreciated the efforts of Manchester's personnel, he said that more information could have been provided to residents on the township website before Sandy struck.

"It didn't even say in the event that it was needed, where there would be shelters," he said. 

Chief of Police Brian Klimakowski said that information was available on the township and police department websites and authorities keep a database of special needs residents they monitored throughout the storm. The township did not have the resources to open its own shelter, which is why any Manchester residents who needed to evacuate were told to utilize a shelter run by Ocean County.

"I'm not criticising what was done," Gilligan said. "I think that these things need to be looked at."

Zsoldos thanked Gilligan for his input and said that officials plan to hold a meeting to determine what worked and what could be done better should another severe storm impact the area.

Council member Sam Fusaro acknowledged that it was difficult for some residents to stay informed through the township's reverse 9-1-1 calls because many modern phone systems rely on electricity to work. With a large percentage of residents without power during and after Sandy, they could have missed vital information.

"Most service goes when power goes," Fusaro said, adding that the township should work with residents to ensure that cell phone numbers are registered to the system in addition to landlines.

Handling an election just days after Sandy was "some chaos," said Clerk Sabina Skibo.

"But it was controlled chaos in the office. Everyone was very patient," Skibo said. "My staff worked approximately 30 hours over two days trying to get polling places back up, moving people around." 

One of Manchester's 40 voting districts was closed because of Sandy and residents who normally used the site were offered a bus to a nearby polling location.

"They had to scramble and they did a great job getting everything up and running," Zsoldos said of the employees in the clerk's office.

Zsoldos said that tax bills were mailed on a delay and residents have until the end of November to pay them.

ballyjduf November 15, 2012 at 02:01 PM
One more thing Nepotism is favoritism granted to relatives regardless of merit.
Lorraine November 15, 2012 at 10:50 PM
First let me say as union members they are not allowed to volunteer their time. All I was saying was what a good job they were doing. No need to be so defensive. And if you looked it up you would see that Manchester Public Works is one of the lowest paid in Jersey. Oh and by the way I wrote this 6:30 in the morning, not on company time. You need to speak to Manchester Patch about why it was in pending approval for 3 1/2 hours.
Common Sense Kills November 16, 2012 at 12:34 AM
I guess risking your life for 12$ hour while your family sits at home wondering if you will be ok for people like bally....to make sure there able to vote isnt good enough...
billy madison November 16, 2012 at 02:10 AM
The employees at the public works garage did not receive any compensation, other than o.t. between the hours of 3:30--7:00am the next morning----so no, they did not earn more money than whatever it is you said. These guys who stayed during the storm, did so while their families were at home wondering about their own safety. These professionals at the public works did indeed place the needs of the town well before their own needs. Their sacrifice and shear determination has gone unrecognized by their superiors at their as well as townhall itself. To be clear----- these men only earn 12.50 an hour for the most part. They have been without a raise for close to three years now, all the while other township employees in townhall have enjoyed substantial increases in their pay. How do you explain that? At the start of the storm, the issues of how the town would compensate their public works employees during the storm arose. The matter was addressed, and compensation for the storm would be in the form of compensation days for the time the town was closed. Once the public works dept was aware that town hall employees would be paid for the days missed without any use of their own time-- townhall quickly retacted anything they had done for townhall to avoid having to pay their public works. Amazing, that is all that can be said. If any resident in the town who reads the patch should ask themselves how can an emploter treat their OWN employees the way they do.
billy madison November 16, 2012 at 02:23 AM
These men at the public works placed their own safety in jeapordy to acheive a mutual goal of trying to keep the town as safe as possible for fire, police,etc. eir attempts to keep the as operational as humanly possible has been ignored. Their achievements are often forgotten. If you are a resident of the town and are reading this--- these men at the DPW did indeed place the needs of the town first setting aside their own personal needs and the needs of their families. They need to be applauded, as well as being compensated for what they do!


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