In times of severe weather events, such as Hurricane Sandy, Police Chief Frank Papapietro balances his role as Chief of the New Milford Police Department with that as head of Emergency Management. In this dual role, Papapietro is called upon to protect and ensure the safety of the residents of New Milford while at the same time coordinating emergency services between the first responders of New Milford and, often, between the mutual aide towns that provide support to each other, as well as other government agencies.
Now that the town is almost back to normal, Papapietro wants to personally thank all those who gave their time, their safety and opened their homes to those in need during the dark days of Sandy, when the majority of town was without power.
To the residents of New Milford,
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and with recovery showing significant progress, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people who helped this community pull through.
Emerging from a disaster of this magnitude takes the hard work of many people. It also takes an indomitable spirit and community cohesion. We have witnessed this time and time again in New Milford.
Throughout the Borough there are stories of neighbors taking in neighbors, supplying them with a line from their generator, checking on the elderly and sick, and cooking meals for each other. It is because of this indomitable spirit that we, as a community, will emerge stronger.
First and foremost I would like to thank all of New Milford's first responders -- Police, Fire, EMS, Auxiliary Police, who spent the overnight of Sandy in extremely hazardous conditions. The Borough was fraught with falling trees and downed live wires and calls for assistance were relentless.
A big thank you must also go to the DPW crews, first responders in their own right, who worked alongside us through the night and into the next several days -- clearing roads, cutting trees and assisting with barricades. They, too, put themselves at risk during the height of the storm -- removing fallen trees that blocked many of the main thoroughfares and obstructed access to residents' homes. Their work in the recovery process is ongoing and will continue into the near future.
Special applause goes to the police desk personnel who fielded and prioritized calls for service and patiently calmed residents seeking answers that we did not yet have to very serious questions regarding the storm.
During the height of the storm, the severe weather conditions necessitated an order prohibiting unnecessary driving by all personnel. However, it is the business of emergency services to constantly put themselves in harm's way to respond to emergency calls. Without hesitation, they put themselves at grave risk, all the while thinking about their own families they left alone in the dark of their own homes so that they could assist other people's families.
The need for emergency services did not end with the passing of the storm. When the storm was over, our officers began dealing with the gas crisis. At a moment's notice, NMPD supervisors established order as a limited number of gas stations began to suddenly open. I especially thank our officers and Auxiliary officers for the professionalism shown in what was a very tense situation.
I would be remiss if I did not thank Superintendent Michael Polizzi for the open line of communication we maintained throughout the duration of this incident, collaborating on decisions designed first and foremost to protect the well-being of our Borough's children.
From the Building Department to the Courts, the Borough Hall staff has worked tirelessly catching up from the four days lost to having no power, assisting residents with problems and concerns and forwarding power outage information to me for quick resolution.
Through it all, the continuity of government was maintained thanks to Borough Administrator Christine Demiris, Deputy Borough Clerk Colleen Naumov, and the entire Borough Hall staff. The terrific ladies in the Municipal Court and Records Department stepped out of their roles to assist in any way possible.
I need to thank the Mayor for all her efforts throughout, as well as the Council members who contacted me before and during the storm to offer assistance and took it upon themselves to knock on doors to check on residents. No request from me was ever denied and no decision was ever questioned. I thank you all for the unwavering confidence you have placed in me.
Special thanks to the linemen who worked tirelessly to restore power. Given the magnitude of the situation, and the expanse of the area affected, they faced a daunting task and are still in the process of restoring life to New Milford as we know it. Many, far from the comforts of their own home, have been consistently impressed by the hospitality of the New Milford residents who have offered them food and showers and have made them feel at home. We thank these people who left their families and came so far to help us. Be assured we will do the same for you if the need arises.
Bergen County Emergency Management has been an indispensable asset in this, and every, major event New Milford has faced. Lt. Dwane Razetti, Sgt. Barry Leventhal, Det. Gidget Petry, P.O. Salzano, Matt Zimkowicz and Maria were always there for me and had answers to all of my requests at their fingertips. Through them I had instant access to PSE&G and State assets. Aside from relying on them for information and assets, they are a one-stop shopping venue for weather and FEMA information. I can’t imagine facing any disaster without them.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the unsung heroes -- the families of all of the first responders -- Police, Fire, EMS, Auxiliary Police. These strong, silent heroes who go through every emergency alone -- handling their own emergencies while bringing comfort and lending strength to their loved one in every brief phonecall home. Often, situations like this mean that they go without seeing their loved ones for days on end. They do it consistently and without complaint.
Though many of you are still suffering, the recovery process has begun and will continue. I thank all of you for your patience and for the kindness shown to all of our first responders.
Chief Frank Papapietro