The Kinnelon Council authorized a special emergency appropriation of $80,000 to be used for expenses associated with Superstorm Sandy during its Thursday meeting.
Mayor Robert Collins said the expenses include overtime, gasoline and other emergency costs.
Borough Chief Financial Officer Donna Mollineaux explained that this appropriation will give Kinnelon an account to charge its expenses. The hope, she said, is that the borough will get 75 percent of that money back from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) after reimbursement forms are filed.
After Thanksgiving, the borough will perform a post-storm assessment of its Sandy response to analyze what it did well and what it could do better in the future.
Collins and the council members said many residents have reached out to him to thank the council and borough professionals for their work during the storm.
“I’ve heard positive accolades from many people,” Councilman Gary Moleta said. “Usually you don’t hear that, but it makes this job more than worthwhile when you do.”
The mayor read a few of the letters he had received, including one from a Kinnelon resident thanking the Department of Public Works and another from a Butler resident praising the library for staying open longer and serving as a safe haven during the storm. Collins also received a letter from Ameer Krass, who owns the Getty on Route 23 in Kinnelon, thanking the police department for its assistance during the gas shortage.
“Mr. Krass offered to be a first refueling depot for our responders and police vehicles,” Collins said. “It’s interesting that people who we thought were helping us are thanking us.”
Collins received a great amount of praise from each council member during the meeting, with Councilman Ronald Mondello deeming him the “face of the storm.” Council President Dan O'Dougherty thanked Collins for his role in calling Jersey Central Power and Light (JCP&L) and getting the utility company to the borough to take care of certain streets.
“A man is judged by how he reacts with grace under fire,” Councilman Andrew SanFilippo said. “With the last two storms, my hat is off.”
Collins returned the praise to all of the council members, as well as the members of the public who went out of their way to help their neighbors during the storm.
“Early on in this storm, it became clear that Kinnelon would have to take care of Kinnelon,” the mayor said, explaining the difficulty of giving or receiving outside assistance. “The public really stood up. When neighbors are opening up their homes for a place to get warm and actually take a shower, there’s that sense of community we talk about time and time again.”
Mondello mentioned that many of the volunteers were leaving their families often to help strangers.
“They asked for nothing in return, risking their life,” he said. “In my opinion, there is no greater definition of love.”
The mayor and council members called out specific departments for their service, including the DPW, police department and the library, which stayed open for extra hours to provide warmth, electricity and coffee. SanFilippo reported that the fire department had responded to 36 alarms during October – 32 within the 48 hour span of Oct. 29 and 30 – in addition to cutting trees, clearing brush and evacuating residents.
Collins said he hopes to formally acknowledge the professionals and volunteers who assisted the borough during the storm at the next meeting.