Town back to normal after Irene . . . almost

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:10

    Major power outages resolved as town dries out and cleans up SPARTA — "It could have been much worse," is the phrase repeated by many residents all over town in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. Although for the 4,500 people without power in the first hours after the storm on Aug. 28, it seemed pretty bad at the time. By the council meeting on Aug. 30, Town Manager David Troast reported that the number of those without power was down to 3,000. Those in that unenviable candlelight club dwindled slowly as last week seemed to drag on and more and more homes gradually regained power by the weekend. Troast said JCP&L brought in 300 workers from Ohio to help restore power around the state. This week Troast said to his knowledge, all major areas of town that experienced outages now have power. He said JCP&L representatives told him that if any individual homes remain without power, they should contact the company immediately and not assume it has been reported. The township website at has Hurricane Irene information for residents, including the news that FEMA has approved disaster aid for all 21 counties in NJ. Those in need of assistance can register by phone at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585 for those with impairments. Specialists are available 7 days a week, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. To register online, log on to . At the council meeting, Troast gave an overview of areas that had been affected by the storm, including flooding on Station Rd. He said no buses are currently permitted on that road. Sparta Glen had some flood damage, and numerous trees were down around town damaging personal property. The township website also has information on the removal of brush and solid waste or debris after the storm. Building materials (shingles, lumber, brick etc.), electronics (TV, computers, monitors etc.) and hazardous materials will not be collected by the solid waste hauler and are the resident’s responsibility for proper disposal. These materials can be taken to the Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority on Rt. 94. For additional information, call 973-579-6998. Police Chief Ernie Reigstadt said Lake Mohawk officials did a good job of regulating the flow from their spillway by slowly releasing water two days in advance of the storm. He said although the lake level is higher than normal, this action mitigated what could have been flooding in Ungerman Field and the surrounding areas. Troast commended the efforts of township IT Director, Mike Dempsey who was called to Sparta Library to help with the sudden high demand for internet access from power-less laptop users. The library has 16 computers for public use, but many more residents than the library could accommodate were lining up for computer time. Dempsey came in and installed a wireless router which created a wi-fi hot spot which allowed 200 people at a time to access the internet with their own laptops at the library. Bond ordinances introduced The council introduced three bond ordinances at the last meeting for municipal improvements and township equipment. These included the appropriation of $1,023,750 and authorizing the issuance of $975,000 in bonds for the purpose of acquiring an additional fire truck, which would be a combination ladder and pumper truck with a 100 foot ladder. During public participation, resident Marty Schweighardt said his experience with fire-fighting and fire equipment dictates that a township with structures like Sparta does not need a 100 foot ladder, but a truck with a bucket. He added that it would be very difficult for larger individuals or those with disabilities to use a ladder. At their next meeting, the council will have a second reading and public hearing on these ordinances before voting.