When Hurricane Sandy hit, the Department of Public Works leapt into action. One of the first steps it took was to set up the Emergency Operations Center in town hall and a warming center at the senior center. After that, the focus remained on the highest priority – keeping the roads open.
In describing the EOC, Anthony Vaccaro, Commissioner of Public Works noted that this was “the first time it was really used to its full extent.” The center facilitated operations between town personnel and first responders. “During the height of the storm, we were in constant communication,” Vaccaro said.
In addition, staff from the DPW worked closely with “cut and clear” crews from Con Edison. The utility company was responsible for determining whether downed wires were alive or dead to insure the safety of all involved.
The highway department has been dealing with an extraordinary amount of debris and mulch. The recycling center is overflowing. Some mulch is being stockpiled at Warburg Park and excess may be sent to a private facility. The town has employed the services of Almstead Tree and Shrub Care, a private contractor who has been working with the town for a couple of years to provide assistance when resources are stretched.
When asked how the water treatment plant fared, Vaccaro beamed. “We’ve maintained running water throughout the entire event,” he said.
The building and maintenance department worked steadily to insure that the generators at town hall were operational. The EOC was powered by generators which have been in place for about ten years.
The town’s mechanics played a critical role in maintaining vehicles. When breakdowns occurred, repairs were completed as fast as possible.
During the first ten days after Sandy came to town, the department was staffed round the clock. Tuesday, November 13 was the first day on which no overtime hours were recorded.