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Chester Boro Recovering, Twp Reeling After Sandy

Mayor Bob Davis said just under $1.5M damage to Chester Boro and estimated Chester Township is still 97 percent without power.

Superstorm Sandy's path of destruction can easily be seen in Chester Borough and Chester Township.

Downed wires, uprooted trees and damaged buildings are evidence of what the superstorm left behind. But Sandy also disrupted power, shut down schools and decimated Chester's ability to communicate with the outside world and with each another.

"I was on a conference call with some of our assemblymen and they said to me we can go online to look up information or they can fax us over stuff," Chester Borough Mayor Bob Davis said in Monday's meeting of the Mayor and Council. "And I said to them, 'guys, I don't have any of that.'"

According to Chester Borough Administrator Valerie Egan, the borough will not have Internet access until power is restored to Black River Middle School later in the week.

Davis said that as bad as it was for the borough, Chester Township was hit much harder.

"Chester Township is, I believe, 97 percent without power," Davis said. "I can tell you the fire department and Bill Cogger’s cell phone is what is running Chester Township. There is almost no communication there."

Davis and Councilman Matt Finney compiled a preliminary list for FEMA of damages that tallied somewhere shy of $1.5 million dollars.

"I think we got off really lucky," Finney said.

Matt Finney and his wife Maxine, the Chester Recreation director, had been working at the Borough Hall since the storm providing residents with food, fuel, showers and a place to charge their devices in the aftermath of Sandy.

"Matt and Maxine have been huge in keeping the calm," Davis said. 

Davis also pointed out the volunteers like Colleen and Emily Lane, Elaine West and Ellen Runyon who helped keep the Borough Hall warming station going. 

"Ellen showed up in her West Orange EMT jacket and even though she is a Chester Township resident asked what she could do," Davis said. "I waited about 15 seconds before putting her to work."

According to Davis, Runyon ran the warming station since then, only taking a break on Sunday when Davis forced her to.

Davis also said Colleen Lane was instrumental in keeping up with the monitoring and cleaning of the kitchen area and Emily Lane helped entertain and engage the kids that showed up with activities and crafts.

"And Elaine West walked in and asked what she could do," Davis said. "And we hope to only have to lean on their services for another week."

Davis said that this was the first time in his history with the borough that they have opened a formal shelter and was amazed at the outpouring of support in the community. 

"Its amazing how things happen and how people give of themselves," Davis said.

Although Borough Hall being used as a the primary polling location for Chester Borough on Tuesday, Davis said they would open again to residents.

"Tomorrow our plan is to continue the shelter," Davis said. "I know there will be voting taking place here tomorrow but the needs of our residents comes first." 

Tina Salvi Farnsworth November 06, 2012 at 05:49 PM
I am following Chester township's Twitter but it's all the same info over and over. no new news. I had an officer tell me that we would be without power for almost a month. our street has not been touched. I had a FedEx guy tell me that the out of state union and non union workers are refusing to work together. nice.
TwinBoroMom November 06, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Toughen up, people. We all had well over a week to prepare for this; the storm did an incredible amount of damage and all the utilities are working a had a they can. It's in their best interest to do so. That said, our local Chester Borough government should have done a better job in securing a back up communications plan.
Tina Salvi Farnsworth November 06, 2012 at 06:20 PM
I was prepared. there is only so much I can do without running water...and I agree with you that it takes time. but we keep getting false reports, if any reports at all. it is the communication that is so bad. if it is going to be a month, then tell me it will be a month. that way I can make other provisions.
Hjambor November 06, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Folks we have another storm about to come this way. We need answers now! Please give us a truthful estimate. We are not asking for miracles, just some answers so we can plan.
Liongirl14 November 06, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Chester twp is just now starting to communicate. This is only after residents started to complain about the lack of information. I don't want to hear about how te Internet was down, we communicated on our twitter feed etc. where were you in the community? How about communicating like you would have prior to Internet and twitter. Very disappointed in local leadership! No disaster plan whatsoever

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