Letter to the Editor: Mayor Dawn Zimmer
Mayor Dawn Zimmer thanks Hobokenites, volunteers and many more for help during Sandy.
A few weeks ago, Hoboken saw devastation on a scale we have never faced before. The Hudson River breached our waterfront from the north and south and flooded more than half of our City, destroying thousands of homes and businesses in the process.
The response from our community and beyond was simply overwhelming, generous, and heroic. For days, volunteers walked food, water, and prescriptions up 10 to 15 flights of stairs to seniors whose elevators weren't working. Fire fighters fought blazes in buildings surrounded by several feet of water. Police kept us safe while our City was pitch black. Environmental services and emergency personnel drove pay loaders into deep water and paddled row boats for blocks to rescue infants with high fevers and seniors running out of oxygen. Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corps members saved lives and kept vital communications working when all other communication networks had failed. Together we protected the lives of all Hoboken residents.
I am incredibly thankful to the more than 5,000 volunteers, many from Stevens, who showed up to help their neighbors. With their help, our Police and Fire Departments, Office of Emergency Management, Parks, Public Works, Health and Parking Utility employees, the Volunteer Ambulance Corps, and Community Emergency Response Team formed the spine of our immediate response to the storm. We received support from all levels of government, including President Obama, Governor Christie, Senator Stack, Mayor Gonnelli, Mayor Turner and North Hudson Fire & Rescue. Thanks to President Obama, FEMA and the US Army Corps of Engineers, we had large generators to power up the buildings of our most vulnerable residents, and the National Guard rescued hundreds and delivered supplies to those surrounded by flood waters. Special thanks to the 2nd Battalion of the 113th Infantry New Jersey under the command of Lt. Moore whose heroic and untiring efforts were such an inspiration and invaluable assistance and support to our community.
During and after the flooding, so many individuals and organizations rallied to help those in need. I want to thank Superintendent Toback, Tim Calligy and the Hoboken Board of Education for the use of their schools as shelters, the High School as a storage and distribution center and unlimited buses and drivers, Jaclyn Cherubini and the Hoboken Shelter, Saints Peter and Paul Church and Saint Matthews Church for becoming new shelter locations when our backup generators failed, the Elks Club and Goya Foods for cooking endlessly and providing a warm place for our community to gather, Home Depot, Walmart, Hoboken University Medical Center, the Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, Major Charles Kelly and the NJ Division of the Salvation Army, NECHAMA, all the businesses that donated supplies, food, and other resources, the Rotary Foundation, Hoboken Chamber of Commerce, the Teamsters, Nirvana Water, Duracell and so many others.
Verizon set up a mobile communications truck. Sprint provided 100 mobile phones. Office Depot printed thousands of flyers. PSE&G set up a comfort station with free ice, Internet, and power and added technicians to expedite repairs. Fire Chief Frank Montagne of North Hudson Fire & Rescue loaned us two fire engines and allowed our fire dispatch to temporarily operate from their facility until we could return to our flooded fire headquarters. Mayor Gonelli dispatched two fire engines to help pump basements and provided additional lighting so all three of our substations could be repaired 24/7. Brett Bond, a chef from Maryland, served thousands of free meals at Church Square Park. Individuals from Georgia drove up with generators and chainsaws. The CERT and Volunteer Ambulance Corps members operating out of the Emergency Operations Center kept our community and emergency response teams informed. A&P allowed us to take whatever we wanted for food, batteries, and water - critical to feeding our shelters during the first few days. The Woodbridge CERT and Debbie Baker and Heritage Academy CERT from Monterey, Tennessee also came to our assistance.
And the citizen volunteers are simply too many to thank, but Tom Molta, Lou Casciano, Allison Outwater, John Carey, Dan Gregorio, Carly Ringer, Maggie Shields, Jack Vassallo, Barbara Bravo, John Branciforte, Richard Tremitiedi, Alex Chadis, Dan Collins, Mark Harris, and Maggie Mallon deserve special recognition.
I also want to thank the Construction office, Health Department, my entire City Hall team and PSE&G for working tirelessly to resolve issues and establish a streamlined process to continue trying to get everyone's electricity and heat restored as quickly as possible. A huge thank you to our sanitation team. Due to flood debris, our daily tonnage has gone from 60 to 300 tons per day with a spike of 570 tons in one day. Thank you for working to clean our City, including our parks, and thank you to debris removal contractors Cali Carting, T. Farese & Sons and Galaxy who came to assist as well. Thank you to Freeholder Romano and Norman Guerra for helping add sanitation trucks and keeping the solid waste transfer station open 24/7. Thank you to the DEP for sending a team to respond and continue working with us to address the oil issues facing a 9-block area in my Southwest neighborhood.
I recognize that this long list doesn't begin to acknowledge everyone who played a role in the relief effort. There are thousands of individuals, businesses and organizations who came together. It would be impossible to properly thank them all individually, but I am so thankful for everyone's help.
The challenge of rebuilding will be a difficult one, but we will rebuild. To help fill the gap between what insurance and FEMA will cover and the true cost to rebuild, we have established the Rebuild Hoboken Relief Fund. It will help individuals, businesses, and nonprofit organizations get back on their feet so they can stay in Hoboken. To make a tax-deductible donation, please go to www.rebuildhoboken.org.
Mayor Dawn Zimmer