By Leigh Anne Hubbs
Gloucester City News
Although Hurricane Irene did not do as much damage as originally anticipated, various borough departments were prepared for the worst during the last weekend of August as it passed through New Jersey. Mount Ephraim Fire Department Chief Brian Gilmore told the Board of Commissioners at last week’s meeting that the firehouse had been manned from 2 p.m. on Saturday until 6 p.m. on Sunday firefighters were ready for any possible hurricane damage.
During that weekend they pumped the basement of the Budget Inn, which allowed the tenants to stay put, Gilmore said.
The Office of Emergency Management was manned by eight people around the clock. During the week prior, Coordinator Jay Vilardo monitored the weather and began to prepare the various borough departments.
Commissioner Andrew Gilmore prepared food at Mary Bray School for those who helped out that weekend.
Vilardo thanked the school district for allowing them to use the school during the storm.
FEMA visited Camden County on September 1, and since the county met the threshold for reimbursement the borough is expecting funds which will help to cover Police Department overtime.
The Public Works Department had removed the Kings Highway flags in preparation for Hurricane Irene, responded to six sewer calls, and has also been maintaining vacant properties around the borough by cutting grass and cleaning up the yards.
Mayor Joseph Wolk thanked everyone who stepped forward that weekend from the bottom of his heart, especially for manning locations other than their own homes – which separated them from their families.
In other news, the Borough has completed the state-issued Best Practices checklist, which is a questionnaire given to NJ municipalities in order to gain some perspective on the policies and procedures of any particular town.
The checklist consisted of 50 questions, too many “no” answers could result in a reduction of state aid. The borough’s results were 33-yes, 4-no, 3-N/A and 10 that were a “no” for this year but will most likely be a “yes” by next so the borough will not be losing any state aid.
In August, the Police Department arrested 20 adults, eight of which were for possession of CDS or paraphernalia; seven juveniles were arrested, five were for criminal trespass and the other two were for disorderly conduct.
The Fire Department received 45 calls last month, which totals 296 so far this year. Some of the calls that they responded to include 10 mutual aid, eight motor vehicle accidents, five de-watering and four fires.
The Commissioners reminded residents to park on the odd side of the street if off-street parking is not available during major weather events such as snowstorms and the rare hurricane; parking on one side allows emergency vehicles greater access to your street.
Now that school is back in session, residents need to obey lights, signs, crossing guards and parking regulations more now than ever to ensure the safety of all.
The next Commissioners’ meeting will be on Thursday, October 6, at 8 p.m. in Borough Hall.