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Mayor: Communication Suffered After Sandy

Hopatcong Mayor Sylvia Petillo releases a statement Monday after the borough is almost fully restored with power.

The following is a statement released to the media from Hopatcong Mayor Sylvia Petillo on Monday afternoon:

"As of today, the Borough of Hopatcong is almost 100% restored. We can only imagine the frustration and anger the residents remaining without power are experiencing. JCP&L expects the rest of the Borough to be restored shortly.

The level of damage from Hurricane Sandy greatly surpassed Hurricane Irene of 2011 and the October 2011 Blizzard. Our efforts will continue as there is still much work to be done around the Borough, clearing trees, poles and debris from roads and property.

We continue to question our utilities and seek the answers as to why communications was poor and inaccurate and why power restoration took so long. We are in contact with the County and State officials demanding action. We are speaking with the schools that will be open Tuesday except for the high school which will open Wednesday.

We have learned much from this devastating experience. The performance and response from our DPW, Police, Emergency Management Staff, Fire Department Volunteers, CERT Volunteers, Dispatchers, Ambulance Squad, School Officials, Teachers and all Support Staff has been exceptional.

Where we were lacking or fell short was in our ability to communicate our actions, details and responses to the public. Our Borough internet and website were down for 10 days creating difficulties and challenges in communications, while Smartphone technology was our only access to social media.

Reverse 911 was down as was resident’s ability to receive calls. Public radio contact was hit or miss. The Herald and Alternative Press were contacted but information was slow, inaccurately reported and outdated as soon as printed.

We have already started looking at improving our social media and other means of communicating that will improve our abilities to communicate promptly, accurately and to a greater number of our residents."

The Watcher November 14, 2012 at 02:27 AM
@I love Hopatcong-- apparently YOU are!
MizzFranco32 November 14, 2012 at 06:32 AM
I'm with you John Pezzino....I felt great about the Mayor's communication via local radio stations...I spent hours sitting in my car to keep warm and listen to the radio station from Hackettstown, 1015, and also 103.7 from Newton I think....Our Mayor gave thorough, concise daily reports...There was no comparing her reports to the reports of the few mayors who came on the radio...I just don't know what else could have been done to update the people...We had no power, which means no tv, no internet, and in some cases, no phone....Short of the Mayor visiting each household on a daily basis, there was no other way to communicate...So get over it people, and move on....I applaud your efforts Mayor Petillo...I say, "Well done."
Frazure November 14, 2012 at 11:23 AM
Police/EMT/Fire personnel are highly trained in disaster/emergency procedure and deal with it on varying degrees every day. This was simply new territory for an untrained mayor and council. All the technology in the world wouldn't help those residents in town who are not technically savvy or those who choose not to complicate their lives with a lot of technical gadgetry. This was a learning experience for Ms. Petillo and the council that they will hopefully take advantage of. When technology fails, a printed communication flier posted regularly at open local merchants, the shelter and other public buildings would have worked for the short term.
Maryann Edwards November 14, 2012 at 01:40 PM
This storm didn't uproot tough critics, it made us realize that our mayor was not ready to deal with this kind of disaster. She should have been more proactive from the very beginning of this. Instead she fed us the same fiction that JCP&L was telling her. As all the towns around us were restored, we were still in the dark, and having a hard time getting any information. Our mayor should have listened to us when we were calling her and telling her that no one was working in Hopatcong. She could have had someone come out to check on what we were telling her instead she just kept giving us the same old story about how JCP&L was working around the clock to restore our power. She failed us when we needed her the most, she did not step up and seek the truth until over a week after the storm hit. She should have been on top of this situation from the very beginning, that is what as good elected official would and should have done. Yes, I do feel that Mayor Petillo failed us!
john j November 14, 2012 at 11:40 PM
am sure many of us have good suggestions for improvemnt of handling any future similar situations, where may these suggestions be sent?

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