Snowstorm Costs Mounting
Cleanup expected to take weeks, officials say.
Cleanup from the rare Oct. 29 snowstorm will likely continue for weeks, and total storm-related costs are expected to reach well into six figures, township officials said.
The snowstorm left thousands without power in Teaneck and brought branches down across town, officials said. PSE&G announced all power had been restored on Sunday, but Teaneck tree crews were expected to continue cleaning up for weeks.
“There probably isn’t a property within the Township that doesn’t have a branch down,” Township Manager William Broughton said in an interview Friday. "It’s definitely worse than Irene."
Broughton said he arrived in town Saturday and was surprised at the amount of damage.
“It looked like a bomb had gone off in the town,” he said. “I couldn’t believe the amount of tree branches that were down.”
Crews from the Department of Public Works and private contractors were still working to clear debris scattered across nearly every inch of Teaneck’s 121 miles of roadway.
“We have to go street by street,” he said.
An exact cost of the storm was not yet calculated, but Broughton said the Township had spent more than $100,000 on clean up alone as of Friday morning. The total price tag was expected to increase as the Township calculated storm-related personnel costs.
“These recent storms are having a significant impact on the Township budget,” he said.
Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin said he hoped New Jersey would be declared a disaster area in order for Teaneck to receive federal aid. Emergency management officials were in Bergen County Monday to begin a preliminary damage assessment that could pave the way for federal funding.
“These assessments are the first step in determining whether the disaster is of such severity and impact that it is beyond the capabilities of the state and local governments and that federal assistance is necessary,” a statement from Gov. Chris Christie’s office said.
Hameeduddin initially expressed frustration over a lack of communication between Teaneck officials and PSE&G, but said the utility quickly reacted to his concerns. In an Oct. 30 interview with Patch, the mayor said PSE&G had provided vague information and not coordinated with DPW crews.
“If there is a next storm I think the lines of communication are now open,” Hameeduddin said. “We can get access to the people we need at PSE&G.”
Hameeduddin said an upgraded Township website would offer better communication tools for residents during future emergencies. The new site, scheduled to come online before next year, will include email alerts and social media to quickly share information.
Officials were unable to send a reverse 911 phone message to residents because of a problem with the county’s system, the mayor said.
“Obviously the communication is something I’d like to improve,” Hameeduddin said.
Broughton and Hameeduddin said the fall snowstorm was a unique situation that left millions without power along the East Coast. According to officials, Teaneck was one of the hardest hit towns in Bergen County with upwards of 10,000 customers in the dark during the storm.
“It’s very important that people understand the magnitude of this storm,” Hameeduddin said.
Broughton said residents should prepare for future storms and Teaneck Police would hold presentations on emergency preparedness.
“It appears that our weather is becoming more and more unpredictable and extreme,” Broughton said.
Neighbors should also pitch in to help each other during future emergencies, he said.
“In times like these we have to work together,” Broughton said.
The Township will review its storm response, Broughton said. PSE&G was also expected to hold a public presentation in Teaneck to explain its response to the storm.