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Volunteer Responders Honored by Hopatcong Council

CERT team acclaimed for service during and after Hurricane Sandy.

The attacks of Sept 11, 2001 brought Steve Millian to the training for volunteers who in 2005 would form the Hopatcong Community Emergency Response Team.

Hurricane Sandy brought him and his team to Hopatcong High School where for two weeks they supported and comforted community members who had been driven from their homes by the storm.

Millian and many of the 50 members of the team were present at a recent council meeting as Mayor Sylvia Petillo and the Borough Council thanked them for their service.

“We depend on you so much,” Petillo said, “And you never complain. You make all the difference.”

Millian, the CERT team leader, said that after Sept. 11, he felt he wanted to help his community.

He was clearly proud of his team’s efforts during Sandy.

“We were at that school for a full two weeks,” he said.

Hopatcong has the only single-municipality CERT team in Sussex County, Petillo  said. The other is operated by the county.

The concept originated in Los Angeles in 1985, and a 1987 earthquake solidified the idea that trained civilians could help in disaster response, Petillo said.

CERT training was initiated in Sussex County in 2005, and Hopatcong endorsed the idea.

CERT volunteers are trained to assist neighbors, businesses, and government agencies, and in an emergency become auxiliary responders, Petillo said.

“These groups can provide immediate assistance to victims in their area, organize spontaneous volunteers who have not had the training, and collect disaster intelligence that will help professional responders,” she said.

Hopatcong’s CERT team has assisted in missing persons searches, conducted disaster drills at local schools, and in 2007, participated in a major exercise at Picatinny Arsenal.

But it was the care and attention they showed those at the shelter that meant the most, Petillo said. CERT members were patient and caring in a very difficult situation.

“Whenever needed, they are ready, willing and able to assist at a moment’s notice,” the mayor said.

CERT members receive 10 to 12 weeks of basic training, and three weekends of training in basic fire and police procedures, search and rescue, emergency medical operations and other safety and disaster readiness training, Petillo said.

The Hopatcong CERT team meets monthly at the senior center. Meetings are 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month. The program is open to any borough residents 18 years or older. For information call (973) 810-8347.

The Watcher February 20, 2013 at 10:59 PM
no jazzman the WIFE of the guy who waters the plants in Modick is getting the full time office job. The guy getting the full time job is the CERT guy in the article. The Herald is making fun of us because the powers that be have the attitude "Let them eat cake" they seem to have cake at the meetings quite a bit, then they give out awards.
Ray Tierney February 21, 2013 at 04:04 AM
THOSE WHO CAN DO.. Those who can't hide behind a fake name, sit on their butts and talk about THOSE WHO CAN DO with all the wrong facts. don't be one of those "fake name people" use your real name and come on out and volunteer to help.
jazzman February 21, 2013 at 01:33 PM
sometimes i wonder why i use the word moronic... then i hear.... going door to door inside a storm like Sandy,and not think day 1 Tuesday or day 2 Wed or at least by day 3 Thursday.....a light bulb going off at least by that weekend but its now 3 months later ! your only comfirming my suspicions of the Certs,might need to start calling them the Green Team
The Watcher February 21, 2013 at 09:04 PM
@jazzman it is my understanding that her husband does the gardening for the town
Mason Francisco Sr. April 19, 2013 at 10:10 PM
Hooray for Jeff and Ray! Well Said! I am SO tired of those who sit around with nothing better to do then whine and complain about the people that freely gave of themselves in a time of need...exactly what were those whiners doing anyway? Oh, they were too busy selfishly looking out for number one. That kind of person hasn't got what it takes to serve their community. Talk is cheap, and actions speak louder than words...Want to earn respect? DO SOMETHING! ...or you could just read patch and whine.

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