Communication was on the minds of several residents who attended Monday night’s meeting of the Mayor and Council in Mendham Borough. And according to Mayor Neil Henry it was also on the minds of several residents who e-mailed him over the course of the week.
Henry addressed the lack of updates on the town website after Hurricane Sandy blew through town last week head-on.
“The website wasn’t updated because we don’t have the power or the manpower to update it,” Henry said. “I really think we need to take a look at improving our information flow. Town Hall was closed and I am sure residents were looking for information. Next time we need to have it open as a place to get warm and charge up their phones and get information.”
Information flow was added to the list of topics to be covered in a proposed meeting after the storm.
“When all of this is said and done we will have some public safety meetings to discuss what we did right and what we could do better next time,” Councilman Brad Badal said.
Badal was quick to praise the first responders, the police department, the fire department and members of the Department of Public works who risked life and limb during the storm.
“It was like one unified department,” Badal said. “Not several departments working together.”
Councilman Stanley Witczak also praised the responders, but said the post-storm follow up would require a little more than a meeting.
“I think we’ll have to have a major debriefing in the future to make the municipality run much more efficiently in a time of crisis,” Witczak said. “The 100-year storm seems to be happening every year now.”
Witczak also spoke about what many in attendance were concerned about, when were they were going to get power back.
“We have 73 utility poles out of service, downed and snapped that need to be replaced,” Witczak said. “I want to thank the members of first energy, particularly the fellows from Michigan. I counted in excess of 25 crews in Mendham working. Residents want to know when the power is coming back there is no definitive answer.”
Borough resident Denis Picard expressed his frustration over the website not being updated and asked that Henry convey a message to Gov. Chris Christie when they are next on a conference call.
“You really need to let the governor know he’s not getting it done. I did go by his house and check and his lights are on,” Picard said. “And mine are not. And no one is working on it.”
Henry said that he was in frequent contact with the utilities and asked that residents try to be patient.
“They said seven to 10 days for power restoration when the storm finished. Its seven today and 10 brings us out to Wednesday or Thursday,” Henry said. “I anticipate by Wednesday or Thursday we can have the community back on board. I would ask the folks without the power to be patient.”