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Council Congratulates Rumson Department Heads on Job Well Done During Hurricane Irene

The mayor said the borough fended well during the storm thanks to hard work from many of Rumson's dedicated employees.

TheCouncil congratulated the local department heads for a job well done during at their regular meeting on Tuesday, September 13.

“All and all, except for probably the third highest flooding we’ve had, Hurricane Don being number one and the storm of ’91 probably number 2, we didn’t suffer any major damage and over all we came through well,” said Mayor John Ekdahl. “We came through well because of the hard work of all of our departments.”

Ekdahl said that the Office of Emergency Management  (OEM), (DPW), , and borough officials all worked together efficiently during the storm which helped the borough and its residents fend well during the storm.

Jim Hempstead, who was just recently named the OEM Coordinator, “did an excellent job,” according to the Mayor. “Jim and I worked closely together throughout the storm and I was very impressed with his skills.”

With his first major emergency occurring only after being appointed to this position in April, Hempstead handled many of his duties with ease. OEM was responsible for all emergency notification systems including Nixle, reverse 911, AM radio, the website and Twitter, with the help of Councilman Ben Day. Hempstead worked with the police department in deciding which areas of Rumson required a mandatory evacuation. He was also responsible for setting up a for evacuated residents.

“For the first time in 50 years, we were challenged with setting up an evacuation shelter in Rumson at the ,” said Mayor Ekdahl. “The last time there was a need for a shelter was during Hurricane Don.”

Mark Wellner, superintendent of the DPW, was recognized for his teams’ quick response on clean up of the borough roads. “It looks like we are going to collect something north of 5,000 cubic yards of debris and hopefully have it up before leaf season,” said Ekdahl.

Fred Shea, Rumson Borough Sanitary Sewer Superintendent, confirmed that the borough lost 9 of the 11 pump stations due to electrical outages during the storm due but kept them up thanks to generators. “We kept the flow moving and had no back-ups, which we have had on occasion in storms past,” said the Mayor. “We pumped about 15 million gallons of sewage.”

Police Chief Richard Tobias was also recognized at the meeting. The mayor acknowledged his teams’ efforts during the storm and his leadership role played with the borough.  “All of the shifts were double-covered. All the men were out working around the clock.”

The mayor also thanked Tom Rogers, the borough clerk and administrator, for holding down the fort at Borough Hall. Rogers was responsible for answering residents’ questions, maintaining communication between all of the departments and communicating with the community.

“There are other leaders who aren’t here this evening that also did a terrific job,” said Ekdahl. “, chief of the fire department, you can imagine had to deal with tons of downed wires everywhere, and Joe Truex, the captain of the First Aid, you might imagine those guys were busy as well.”

Overall, the mayor said he was very happy with the way all of the departments handed their responsibilities and is thankful to have such dedicated leaders in the borough.

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