Middletown, as well as most of Monmouth and Ocean Counties faced a storm that became one of the five worst in the last 140 years, with 30 inches of snow and winds equivalent to a category 2 hurricane. Township crews and private contractors began working the streets at approximately 10:00AM on Sunday, December 26th.
Hours before the storm weather predictions were for about half of what we actually were faced with. One of the most difficult issues with this storm was how quickly the snow accumulated. For the first 24 hours crews out plowing and using front end loaders were severely hampered by an extraordinary number of emergency calls requiring fire, first aid and police response. From Sunday, December 26th through Thursday, December 30th 3,449 calls for assistance were received. Of these, 1,009 calls required some form of emergency response and many were 911 calls. There were 204 reports of disabled motor vehicles (many stranded or abandoned and many of which were emergency vehicles), 123 First Aid and/or Fire responses and 102 reports of motor vehicle crashes.
Each emergency response required the diversion of a snow crew from wherever they were working to the location of the emergency so that access could be quickly provided to the address. This effort was continually hampered by again, an extraordinary number vehicles being stuck on the road, including numerous police cars, ambulances, tow trucks, and plows. There were also numerous cars left abandoned on roads, further hampering plowing operations.
Many pick-up trucks with plows were simply overwhelmed by the volume and weight of the snow and unable to function. In most areas, front end loaders were needed. Although front end loaders are very efficient in the volume of snow they can move, they do move very slowly. This is especially true in areas with a lot of on-street parking and we have a lot of neighborhoods like that.
Besides the complication of the tremendous volume of snow and the enormous number of calls for emergency response, two other factors contributed to the difficulties encountered. Because the storm hit Sunday and peaked Sunday night, there were a lot more cars parked on the streets that there would be for a weekday storm. In addition, on some roads conditions were made worse after mostly well-intentioned people moved snow from driveways and walkways and put it back into the streets.
The Township has had crews on the road, both township employees and private contractors, constantly since Sunday morning. Typically there are about 24 to 30 workers on either plows, front end loaders, or salt/sand trucks at any given time. The town is divided into four districts and each district has a supervisor that moves the crews from place to place within their district.They also re-deploy vehicles as needed to respond to emergencies. These crews, which include both township employees and private contractors, have worked round the clock since Sunday morning and will continue to do so for as long as necessary.
Each year the Township awards contracts to 6-7 private contractors to supplement our municipal operations. In response to this snow emergency, we added two more contractors. While one did show up and performed very well for us, the other contractor simply failed to appear.The area this contractor failed to cover had to be picked up by others causing further delay.
Middletown is comprised of 42 square miles compared to Manhattan with only 23 square miles. Our large geographic area presents a number of substantial challenges during storm events like this. The sheer number of roadway miles in Middletown is daunting when you think of plowing snow. Crews have to plow 330 roadway miles, which is the equivalent of plowing from Middletown to Richmond, Virginia.
We are confident that Middletown’s emergency responders and road crews did their very best through this extremely powerful storm. However, we realize that there is always room for improvement. We will be making every effort to review our operations and procedures used to respond to such storms and will implement several changes that will help us to handle such events more expeditiously in the future. We thank you for and appreciate your patience and perseverance. We will make every effort to continue improving our operations to the best of our ability.
Finally I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of Monmouth County and the State of New Jersey. In addition to clearing the County roads, Freeholder John Curley was instrumental in sending us three front end loaders and operators to help clear Middletown roads. Similarly, the New Jersey Department of Transportation was quick to clear the State highways that run through Middletown and a representative from the Governor’s office even reached out to me personally to offer any assistance we needed. We thank them for partnering with us during this extraordinary storm event.
“This was not a Republcian storm or a Democratic storm”
Governor Christie makes his opening remarks to the press after signing a letter to President Obama requesting FEMA disaster relief. The Governor praised his leadership team for the work they did dealing with the strom and praised Senate President Steve Sweeney for his non-partisan partnership. He described the preparation for the storm, the execution of the plan to deal with the storm, and events that occurred during the blizzard.
Governor Christie addresses the circumstances of both he and Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno being away from New Jersey for five days.
“It was not a matter of equipment. It was a matter of the amount of the snowfall and the intensity of the snowfall.” ~ Transportation Commissioner James Simpson
Governor Christie address the inaccurate reports of a decline in the amount of state equipment available to manage storms in the past year. Transportation Commission James Simpson describes the use of the equipment and the conditions he and his team were dealing with.
“I made the decision to be a father first.”
This segment is classic Christie. The Governor describes his decision to go on vacation with his family while preparing for the storm. He delivers a counter-punch to Senator Ray Lesniak who has been critical of the Governor and Lt. Governor this week. He addresses the antiquity of the sucession procedure of the State Constitution and he describes working with Senator Sweeney via phone during the course of the crisis.
Coming next year (probably some time over the weekend)….Chrisite slams mayors who blame the conditions in their towns on the State. He singles out Brick Mayor Steve Acropolis in particular.
Happy New Year! Thank you for being a loyal MMM reader in 2010. ~ Art
Seated left to right, Freeholder-elect Tom Arnone, Sheriff Shaun Golden, Freeholer John Curley, Freeholder Deputy Director Rob Clifton and Freeholder Director Lillian Burry listen to Goveror Christie's remarks to the press. Standing left, John Tobia, Director of Monmouth County's Department of Public Works
By Art Gallagher
During a press conference at the Monmouth County Hall of Records this afternoon Governor Chris Christie graded the results of the State’s response to this week’s blizzard a “B+” given the enormity of the storm. He said that 95% of the State roads were cleared by Tuesday afternoon.
The Governor praised the leadership of Transportation Commissioner James Simpson, Colonel Joseph Fuentes of the NJ State Police and Senate President Steve Sweeney who was Acting Governor during the storm.
Christie said that there were no indications of work actions on the part of rank and file state workers on the ground working around the clock to clean the state highways and rescue stranded motorists. “I’m proud of them,” Christie said of the State employees who worked the storm, “They saved lives.”
Christie explained his absence and that of Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno from New Jersey during the storm. “My most important job is husband and father. I think I made that clear to the voters before they elected me. I had promised my children a trip to Disney World at the end of my first year as Governor. ”
Christie explained that Guadagno came to him in August about a two week trip her father wanted to take with his children and grandchildren. “We hope it isn’t, but it is probably Kim’s father’s last holiday with his family. I wasn’t about to tell my Lt. Governor to only take one week.” The Governor acknowledge that the administration wanted to keep the circumstances of Guadagno’s absence private out of respect for the family and that he was addressing it publicly, with Guadagno’s consent, in response to the partisan rancor over both Christie and Guadagno being out of state.
MMM will publish video of the press conference later today and over the weekend.
Governor Chris Christie signs his letter to President Obama requesting FEMA disaster relief this moring at the Monmouth County Hall of Records. Assembly Members Mary Pat Angelini, Caroline Casagrande and Dave Rible, background.
Trenton, NJ –
To help New Jersey municipalities and counties recover costs from this week’s severe winter snowstorm, Governor Chris Christie today signed a letter to President Barack Obama seeking a major disaster declaration to secure federal funding and ensure New Jersey communities most affected by the storm receive all possible resources to address extraordinary and unforeseen costs from the snow emergency.
“My pledge is to do all we can to help our municipalities and counties in the aftermath of the blizzard, to clean up and to ease the storm’s financial impact,” Governor Christie said. “I want New Jersey to be in the best possible position to receive disaster aid through a prompt application to the federal government and FEMA.
”In the face of such a ferocious and unusual winter storm, our Department of Transportation, State Police and other agencies mounted an effective response, maximized resources and worked tirelessly for days. The eastern municipalities and counties most impacted also did the best they could under very difficult circumstances. There are always concerns about how things could have gone better, but the fact is this was a rare and unanticipated force of nature that hit our state, and we owe our thanks to all those who worked tirelessly to get us through it.”
Also today, Governor Christie announced the distribution of more than $11.18 million in FEMA disaster aid from successful applications following major storms earlier this year. Distribution of payments to municipalities and counties began yesterday and will continue through Monday. Payment amounts to some of the hardest hit counties from those storms include, for example, $386,344 to Camden County, $308,936 to Burlington County, $291,612 to Gloucester County, $284,561 to Atlantic County, $278,638 to Cumberland County and $278,091 to Salem County. Payments for amounts ranging from thousands of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars will go to dozens of other municipalities and counties.
In his letter to President Obama, the Governor noted that storm conditions in 13 counties exceed the standards set to qualify for federal disaster assistance. The qualifying counties are Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset and Union. New Jersey, through data being collected by the State Police Office of Emergency Management, will provide additional supporting information following the completion of a Preliminary Damage Assessment pursuant to FEMA’s Snow Assistance Policy.
The snowfall, which began the morning after Christmas, broke many of the historic records established and maintained by the National Weather Service and National Climatic Data Center, as described in an attachment to the Governor’s letter.
“In light of these severe conditions, federal assistance is critical to properly and fairly mitigate the financial impact of this major snowstorm on State and local budgets, which are both currently under tremendous pressure due to severe economic conditions,” Governor Christie wrote in his letter to the President.
Governor Christie urged counties and municipalities to prepare damage and cost assessments as quickly as possible to move the aid application process along as expeditiously as possible.
The storm of December 26-27 2010 was more than a significant weather event. Published reports have called it one of the top six snow storms in New Jersey history. Many veterans of the DPW in this and other towns do not recall conditions as severe as the ones encountered overnight on Sunday and into the early morning hours of Monday. The magnitude of the storm is illustrated by the fact that snowfall rates of 1 inch per hour are generally considered too heavy for plows to keep pace with, and this storm had periods of 4.5 inch per hour accumulations. Add in the strong, near hurricane force winds and the resulting snow drifts, and this storm will be recorded as one of our area’s worst.
In Fair Haven, our DPW had two men in sand trucks on the road by 11:30 am on Sunday. By 3:30 p.m. Sunday, 7 more employees were on the road plowing. Fair Haven had 9 men, including two who came in from vacation, as well as the DPW Supervisor, operating up to 7 plows and 3 loaders through out the duration of the storm. These were all of our resources. All continued to work until Monday evening, with the last crew and DPW Supervisor leaving at 10:30 p.m. Monday. At that time, late on Monday, almost all streets were open with at least one lane.
The sheer volume of snow required the DPW to remove snow with front-end loaders, slowing down the removal and making it a street-by-street process. This takes a long time, and was the reason most streets had only one lane open while the front end loaders, trucks and plows cleared one street at a time.
Our DPW regular schedule resumed at 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday with continuation of snow removal. By 10:00 a.m. 2 trucks were picking up trash, all of which was picked up by 5:00 p.m. Snow removal crews continued until 3:30 p.m. A sand truck continued to operate, to hit the critical areas until dark.
On Wednesday recycling was picked up town wide and completed by 4:00 p.m. Snow removal crews continued throughout the day, with the sand truck again continuing until dark. Thursday saw continued snow removal, as well as an additional town-wide garbage pick-up.
There were no incidents or mechanical failures during this event. The most significant struggle was the snow plows repeatedly getting stuck on Sunday night.
I am very proud of our dedicated DPW employees, who worked in excess of 30 straight hours from Sunday afternoon until Monday night clearing the roads. The fact that there were no major incidents, injuries or accidents is a testament to their dedication. Further, three employees have voluntarily switched their scheduled day off on New Years Eve to Monday, so they could work to get the streets as clear as possible for when school to resumes on Monday. (I know it is a huge burden, but please make every effort to clear sidewalks in time for the walk to school on Monday)
I am also proud of and grateful to all of those who helped their neighbors; our volunteer fire and first aid squads who were repeatedly called out in terrible conditions; and our police employees who were on the road in the worst of the conditions.
Although we believe we performed admirably under the circumstances, there is always room for improvement. Therefore, we will be conducting a complete and thorough review of all of our processes and decisions, and will make adjustments where necessary, so our performance will be better during future events.
Thank you for your patience, and please have a Happy and Safe New Year!
When we last visited Paul Mulshine he was preparing to blame Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno if his cat pooped on his rug. Mulshine’s cat must have peed in Paul’s Cheerios and drank his last beer. The dipsomaniac expositer has been on a bender since.
First Mulshine said Guadagno should stay in Mexico because the roads were bad in Ocean and Monmouth Counties as he successfully made his way to the Edison studios of News12. He said the roads were bad in the Republican counties because Guadagno and Governor Christie left the Governor’s office in the hands of Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney.
After Mulshine found out why Guadagno is in Mexico, she and her brothers are spending probably their last Christmas holiday with their father who is suffering from advanced cancer, that was OK with him. Then it wasn’t OK with him. Kim’s clan should have spent the holiday in Iowa, where they are from, instead of going to Mexico. Mulshine better hope he keeps his Star Ledger gig, he won’t qualify for America’s next emerging profession, end of life counseling.
In his latest rant, Mulshine demonstrated that he doesn’t qualify as a storm cleanup expert either. He writes as if he’s an expert. His seven hours of shoveling and failure to get to the store to get kitty litter are his qualifications. Paul said:
The effort in the coastal counties was nothing short of pathetic. Though this snow was deep, it was very light – as I can affirm after seven or so hours of shoveling it.
Just a few good passes with a plow would have cleared key state highways at the Shore.
Instead, many of those highways still had just one lane open the day after the storm.
Worse was the lack of coordination. State, county, and municipal roads were all plowed by separate crews. One road would be just fine, till you turned onto another that was barely touched.
Paul is right. The snow was deep, and fortunately light. The reason the snow was so deep is that we got too much of it too fast. Just a few good passes did clear it, on Sunday, and then it snowed some more covering up the area that had just been plowed. I know, while Paul was shoveling and cleaning up cat poo, I was plowing. Then my plow broke, as did many many others that I witnessed at the repair shop today. This storm was historic. 30 inches and wind-blown drifts in less than 24 hours. New Jersey is not equipped to clean up this type of a storm quickly. Nor should we be because they are so rare. Syracuse and Buffalo are equipped for these types of storms which occur in those cities every year.
One would expect a guy who covers New Jersey government and purports to be an expert to know why there are different jurisdictions clearing different roads in the same communities. Coordination is a great idea and might even work in the private sector if unions weren’t involved. But in New Jersey government their would be fights over which entity would pay the overtime and which union would get the overtime.
Mulshine related his personal snowstorm. Just like hundreds of others did in the comments on the app and nj.com websites and who called into News12 while Paul was in the studio that he managed to get to in the horrendous conditions. One would expect better from a professional journalist and opinion maker.
And better we got from the Star Ledger’s Mike Frasinelli. Reading Mike’s article I learned that despite Mayor Cory Booker’s ability to simultaneously handle a snow shovel and an IPhone Newark is more messed up over the storm than Monmouth and Ocean. The reporter witnessed two men threaten each other with gunfire over a parking spot and then start shoveling together. There’s the making of a reality TV show that I would watch.
In addition to getting into the streets, Frasinelli talked to men who worked overnight clearing the snow. He spoke to James Simpson, the State Transportation Commissioner who explained the Route 18 and other State Highway problems. Rather than neglect as Mulshine would have you believe, Route 18 was impassable because plow trucks were breaking down. 9 or 10 trucks broke down clearing the highway.
I guess I knew that Neptune has five state highways running through it. I just never thought about it until I read Frasinelli’s fine article. 175 abandoned vehicles would certainly complicate a clean up. Those vehicles wouldn’t have been abandoned if it hadn’t snowed so hard so fast.
Or just take it from me. What happened was we got too much snow too fast. Christie and Guadagno being here would not have resulted in a faster clean up. Even if they were here, their political opponents in the media and a few idiot legislators would have tried to rile you up and score political points.