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Officials: Preparations, Some Luck Spared Madison

Damage minimal in borough from Hurricane Irene, but library remains closed.

Madison officials said Monday the borough came through the rainsoaked and blustery weekend courtesy of Hurricane Irene in good enough shape that public works interns returned the hanging banners, signs and flower baskets to the downtown streets.

“We’re in good shape compared to neighboring towns,” Mayor Mary-Anna Holden said. “The downtown looks like Christmas. We have outdoor seating. It’s wonderful.”

The mayor said a lot of planning took place, but admitted there was also some luck involved.

Borough Administrator Raymond Codey said the effort to pump water out of basements continued Monday, and all the streets were clear of trees and open to traffic.

Codey said most of the trees that fell were at private homes.

Danforth Road was still closed on Tuesday morning after a tree fell near the gates on Monday. However, the tree has since been removed and the road is open again. Brooklake Road was also closed Tuesday morning on the Florham Park side.

Fire Chief Lou DeRosa said the department pumped water out of an additional five basements Monday, bringing the total to 115. Codey said department volunteers generally handle that chore, leaving the firefighters to handle other duties.

But, Holden said, Madison officials were well aware of the difficulties facing other Morris County towns after the storm. Madison firefighters were providing fire station coverage in Parsippany while that township’s crews were evacuating a hotel that was surrounded by water.

Codey said the borough’s library was closed Monday while the building was examined following a power outage caused by a falling tree.

He said officials wanted to be sure there was not unseen damage at the library before the public was expected to be allowed back in on Tuesday. However, the library was once again not able to be opened on Tuesday.

The tree knocked out power for about a four-block area,  and the homes had been reconnected before the library, Codey said.

The borough will also delay a switch in its trash collection schedule for a week, he said.

The switch, from two days a week to one day a week except during May, June, July and August, was to start Monday.

Codey said the delay will allow residents who have debris like tree branches and storm-damaged goods to get rid of them. He said the  change was made because residents were putting out very little trash for collection on the second day, and the change saves the borough $100,000 annually.

Holden said she will issue a public service announcement with common sense steps residents can take to address any damage to their property. She will also make a statement Tuesday about an estimate of damages and to thank the borough employees and volunteers who stepped up to help their neighbors.

“We called in retirees and any private companies like landscapers volunteered to remove trees,” she said.

Codey and Holden said the borough was fortunate to own its own electric power company. That ownership quickened the response when residents lost power, they said.

Supporting the situation, Codey said, is the effort by the borough public works department, Shade Tree Commission, the Madison Electric Co. and volunteers to take a hands-on approach to Madison’s trees.

As a Tree City, he said, “We take our trees seriously.”

That effort includes routine inspections and discussions concerning what trees need to be removed, he said. The borough plants 105 trees annually, he said, but there is a trimming program that operates 26 weeks a year. The electric power company also hires tree trimming firms to deal with trees that interfere with power lines.

The result, Codey said, is that the borough’s power lines were not in danger of being affected by falling or blowing tree limbs.

Watchdog August 30, 2011 at 04:13 AM
I give the Borough credit. I saw a lot of Borough agencies out before, during, and after the storm. Must be difficult leaving your family, and home, during an event like this and then working in those conditions. Residents in this town expect a lot, and the Borough consistently delivers! Having our own electric utility is a huge advantage over being served by state wide providers. Borough electric crews made the difference this weekend in making sure you didn't love power, and if you did, getting it back as quickly as possible. And what about the Fire Department? They pumped out 115 basements, and I'm sure provided other services to make things safe for those affected. Consider the cost of paying for these types of services that most other fire departments don't even provide! Not to mention the fire situation they had in between! Their speed in response and effectiveness should make all residents feel just a little bit better if it were to ever happen to you. Thanks to all Borough officials and employees for a job well done under difficult expectations and conditions!
Patrick Franklin August 30, 2011 at 01:08 PM
I second Watchdog's thanks. Sadly many on this board take for granted what fine municipal workers we have here in Madison. They more than earned their pay this past weekend, as they always do.
DatMel August 30, 2011 at 01:38 PM
I have to add my kudos to our Borough government for handling this so well. We really have a great town here.
Steve T. August 30, 2011 at 02:00 PM
Agree 100%. Special shout out to our DPW and Electric Departments who proved they are worth their weight in gold.
David S August 30, 2011 at 02:43 PM
I agree all departments and volunteers did a great job. As I posted in another blog on patch, I saw first hand the quick response during and after the storm to a fallen tree and power issue for my neighbors. We are one of the lucky communities to be 'gemtly' touched by the storm and luckier to have the support we have from our Borough.
KeepItReal August 30, 2011 at 03:32 PM
I echo these comments. Yet the dedication of the borough employees is yet another reason Madison is a "top town" in which to live!
Peg Houle August 30, 2011 at 08:04 PM
What else can I say that hasn't been said except to express the considerable appreciation for what our town means to our residents. I feel so grateful for the quality of life that has continued this week following Irene. It was so wonderful to see all of the people in town eating out on Monday night. Some, like us, just wanted a stress-free meal while others were flocking to Madison for the quality eateries and the fact that we had power. Way to go, Rose City!! Peg H
Donna August 31, 2011 at 06:16 PM
Our DPW, Electric Department, Fire Dept. Police Dept. and Mayor Holden did a great job during this crisis. I hope I am not leaving anyone else out. We are very fortunate to live in such a well-organized town. Most of the town employees I've encountered are personable and have a great work ethic. As much as I hate taxes, I hope mine go towards keeping these people happily employed. So far, they've been doing a pretty good job.

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