Superstorm Sandy arrived in Sayreville on Monday, October 29th, bringing with it winds up to 90 miles per hour and a storm surge of approximately thirteen feet. The estimated total damages of the storm are expected to be in the millions of dollars. During the storm, close to 200 people were rescued from the floods. Unfortunately, 39 families lost their homes to the powerful storm, over one thousand additional households were affected or displaced, and over fourteen thousand households were left without electricity.
The Borough of Sayreville would like to take this opportunity to update all residents on the efforts of each department as we move through the stages of response, recovery and onto rebuilding the community.
Our first responders were the first agencies on the ground during the storm. They responded to hundreds of calls ranging from flooding, to fires, to downed trees and power lines. These brave responders were out to help during the height of the storm, even as some lost their own homes.
An emergency shelter was established at our Senior Center and housed anywhere from 80- 200 residents per night. Countless people were also served during the day to provide warmth, food, and power to charge mobile devices. This week the shelter operation was moved to a facility at Rutgers that has the resources for longer term care. The Senior Center is currently operating as a comfort station. A FEMA office was also established at the Senior Center for residents to apply for disaster assistance. The office hours are 8AM – 8PM each day. Next week, a satellite office of the Borough of Sayreville will be established to provide a one stop shop for residents with questions or concerns.
The Office of Construction and Inspection has been reaching out to all residents in affected areas and going to door to door to address any concerns they have about their damages. The department has also been in close contact with the utility companies to restore services to displaced families so they can move back into their homes. As people begin to rebuild, The Office of Construction and Inspection will be there to guide them through the process and assist in any way they can.
To date, The Department of Public Works has cleared well over 600 tons of bulky debris and flood damaged items. Last weekend, the Township of Woodbridge brought 50 additional workers and heavy equipment to assist in the clean up. All orange garbage trucks have been dispatched to collect down trees and branches from the roadways, all while maintaining normal garbage collection schedules. Fort Grumpy has been opened for extended hours to allow residents to bring trash and branches.
The Sayreville Water and Sewer Department lost three sanitary sewer pumping stations as a result of flooding during the storm. These stations were bypassed in order to continue normal services to residents in the area. Flooding at the Middlesex County Utility Authority (MCUA) sewer pumping station is causing the sewers to back up on Weber Ave. MCUA is working to make the necessary repairs. Due to the damages at residences along Weber Ave., water service had to be turned off to the area. The department is working Construction Office to identify the cause of problems and rectify them so normal service can resume as quickly possible.
The Recreation Department had to suspend many programs and activities due to safety concerns and the lack of power to their facilities. In the meantime, the Department has become the hub for donations and volunteers. An intake facility was set up at Dalton Hall at OLV and staffed by teachers from the Sayreville Schools who volunteered their time. The response by the community has been overwhelming and many needed items were received and distributed to those in need. Next week, a larger facility at Gillette Complex, 287 Cheesequake Road, will be operating from 10AM - 2PM and 4PM-8PM during the week and 9-5 on the weekends.
Offices at the Borough Hall were closed in the days immediately following the storm. The loss of power to the Borough Hall resulted in the loss of virtually all communication systems including telephones, e-mail, the website, and SayTV. Three days after the storm, the offices were open without power to collect taxes, water bills and prepare for Election Day. The remaining staff assisted other departments in their efforts to communicate with the residents by going door to door and delivering information to stores that were open. This week the Borough Hall has become fully operational and normal business has resumed.
This has been extremely difficult time for the community, but be assured that we are making progress each and every day. The patience and understanding of all Sayreville residents is greatly appreciated as we move forward.