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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  •  Township assesses storm response

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    News Eagle Reporter
    Hurricane Sandy was at hot topic at the Palmyra Township (Wayne) meeting, Nov. 5. Supervisor Chairmen and Assistant Road Master, Pete Steffen referred to Hurricane Sandy as "Frankenstorm" due to the damage caused by the storm. Steffen commended the community for taking the storm seriously and properly preparing because people cannot completely prepare for "everything Mother Nature will throw at us," he said. But, he said people are able to take small steps to help themselves, adding that "it’s not always a problem on the government to take care of us." Steffen said it is "in the scope of possibility" that the township could develop some type of limited shelter with charging and shower stations for the public. In the past, Steffen said the expansion of the township building has been discussed. With Township Secretary and Treasurer, Lois Powderly needing more office space, Steffen said two birds could be killed with one stone if the town got an architect to look at what could be done.
    With the available building code account money, Steffen asked Supervisor Vice Chairman, William Hamby to oversee the development of a comfort station or shelter since he is involved in emergency management. If the station were to become a 24-hour shelter certified by the Red Cross, it would be run as a Red Cross shelter, which would mean the station would follow Red Cross rules, which include not allowing pets at such shelters.
    Steffen asked if a place could be chosen where people could "man yourself" for six hours in the evening, like what was available during Hurricane Sandy, providing showers and a place for people to charge their phones. Hamby said that is more along the lines of a comfort station which has limited hours and is staffed by volunteers or township employees who would provide the building security. Which, Hamby noted would be "much easier" than a 24-hour shelter because the criteria "is much more stringent" he said. The men agreed that the comfort station would be more probable.
    Steffen recognized that Joseph Kmetz, a Supervisor and Road master "was on top of the game" during the storm because of sandbags that were in areas that could have been troublesome if there was flooding. Kmetz said the road crew worked well with the fire department. Township resident, Vivian Stack said she contacted the Emergency Management about a comfort station in the area. Because there were not any volunteers to man the comfort station, Stack said she would like the supervisors to communicate with supervisors in other townships in the district to establish a comfort station at the high school. Stack said she and her husband would be "happy to volunteer to help in anyway, whatever hours" because that would be the cheapest avenue to follow since nothing would need to be built. Hamby explained that the high school does not have the kind of generator backup system that would be powerful enough to run the high school with lighting or heat. He admitted to not knowing the "exact mechanics" in choosing comfort and shelter stations because it is done by county emergency management. Stack responded by saying she is concerned with the fact that people do not know when there will be more disasters, especially with the upcoming winter months.
    Page 2 of 2 - She added that people should be more prepared and not rely on the government because "they’re not going to come in and save us, so we have to save each other." Stack volunteered to look into finding possible station locations. Steffen told Stack that "we have stuff to look into." Hawley Borough Police Corporal Ernest Hilling said one of the biggest problems with any storm is people and transportation. He asked if the township has any kind of public transportation, which he was told does not. But, Steffen said the issue is addressed in the township’s emergency action plan with transportation members listed as contacts who are available for transportation if needed. But, Steffen noted that the plan is in the "being updated stage" and when it is finished it will be presented to the board.
    Joann Kmetz said the town needs some kind of communication between the township and trucks because of instances of downed trees and power lines that resulted from the storm. Hamby said he has tried to get a grant for radios, but has been unsuccessful because there are not any available. He added that the township may have to consider spending some funds to setup a system for communication between the trucks and the township building.  
    Hilling said when Police Chief Daniel Drake, Hamby and himself tried communicating with PPL and PennDOT it was like "hello wall" because the companies did not understand the issues with the roadways. But, due to Hamby’s "persistence" things were cleared up, Hilling said. Supposedly, Hilling said there were PPL trucks in the area, but when he worked from Sunday night until Wednesday he never saw a PPL work truck, only supervisor and foreman trucks. Monday, Hilling said in front of the police station, 67 trucks from North Carolina went through town. He said it is "pretty bad" to see out of state trucks, rather than local ones. Hilling added that there needs to be some kind of plan to deal with fallen wires.
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