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Residents Criticize Officials for Lack of Shelter

Officials praise residents' relief efforts; Councilwoman Bello: "These are the times where we see what kind of community we are."

A few dozen angry residents filled the council chamber Wednesday night to address their concerns regarding the township’s response to the ongoing flooding crisis.

Several residents said that officials let them down due to the fact that the township provided no temporary shelter for them while flooding occurred last week and continues to affect low-lying residents this week.

“We’re all very upset,” one resident passionately said. “It’s just very sad. Where do we go? What is Wayne doing for me? I have no water, no gas. I can’t go to another town for shelter. We have plenty of locations where we can have a shelter.”

Pat Menzo, a resident of Cedarcliffe Drive, said “you don’t need trained personnel to put a roof over someone’s head.”

Mayor Christopher Vergano said that because their resources were stretched so thin, the American Red Cross was only able to provide temporary regional shelters in Paramus, Sparta, and Morristown. Many residents said that they could not get to the shelters because of floodwaters.

“We were not in a position to provide a temporary shelter,” Vergano said.

Vergano said the town would revise its emergency action plan to provide a temporary shelter during future flood events.

Vergano offered flood victims who need a place to stay the use of the council chamber Wednesday night.

More than one resident stated that officials must keep partisan politics out of relief efforts.

“I understand there were mistakes that were made. Now we have to go ahead and move forward,” Rex Miatke said. “It can’t be divisive. We have to come together as a group.”

Members of the council praised the efforts of residents on Ryerson Avenue, one of the hardest-hit flooded areas, who assisted each other throughout this week and last week by helping them clean out their homes and serving them food.

“We all have to do our part,” Councilwoman Nadine Bello said. “These are the times where we see what kind of community we are.”

Possible solutions have been discussed by state and federal officials recently due to the severity of the flooding and the growing frequency by which it has occurred in the Passaic River basin.

The State Department of Environmental Protection authorized communities in the Passaic River Basin to remove debris from rivers to alleviate flooding after Hurricane Irene.

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water passed a measure Tuesday giving the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers the authority to spend $5 million on home buyouts in the basin. The Senate has yet to vote on the measure.

Councilwoman Lonni Miller Ryan said the problem is bigger than Wayne and that those possible solutions won't solve the problem.

“You can’t fix it with buyouts,” Ryan said, noting that, according to the Army Corps of Engineers, $2 billion has been spent on flood relief in the basin since 2007.

“If we had spent $2 billion fixing the problem residents wouldn’t be flooded today, ” Ryan said. “Do you know what that $2 billion is? It’s piles of garbage in front of residents’ houses.”

Al Scala September 09, 2011 at 12:01 PM
Thankfully, this VOAD organization, picked up the ball and did what I think the Town should have done. I'm not quite sure who VOAD is, as I don't think they're affiliated in any way with the Town government. We have a full time, paid Emergency Management Co-Ordinator. Why didn't he set up an emergency plan for the taxpayers of Wayne should they get flooded out of their homes? The Town Council really dropped the ball here. Thankfully, VOAD has done the job that are government failed to do. Disappointed with Vergano and Scweigart, (sp),. I have a lot of respect for both and have always voted for them, Very disappointed in their lack of action. I'm sure if Scott Rumana lived in one of these areas, they'd be swimming out to his house themselves to help. For Scott Rumana, they'd call in the National Guard, U.S Navy, U.S Army and everybody else to help him. However, the regular taxpayer is ignored. I sincerely hope they start distancing themselves from Rumana. I think Rumana is going to drag them all down.
the dude September 09, 2011 at 01:11 PM
Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man.
George September 09, 2011 at 05:35 PM
Could someone please explain to me how Councilman Sadowski did not know that residents of Cedarcliffe and Laurel Drive were flooded? All he had to do was drive around his ward. I think he spent too much time on his sign ordinance and not enough time knowing his ward.
Gary Marchese September 11, 2011 at 05:16 PM
The township of Wayne certainly has worsened the flooding problem by voting zoning changes to allow building in flood plain areas. They do not necessarily flood, but they cause flooding because of surface pavement and runoff. They care more for developers making milions then the residents of the town trying to survive. These are the people who have paid their taxes,worked hard to make a living, support town business's, yet are treated like second class citizens. We all have to feel bad because we love this town. It is difficult to see the bad press Wayne is receiving for those who have lived here so long and have seen the township grow into the jewel of Passaic County. What have we become?
Pad September 13, 2011 at 12:48 AM
Gee I saw the council meeting last night and they hid behind the law. Stating that they can't by law have a shelter unless it's secure, seperate male & female sections, sections for children blah, blah, blah. I wonder if Paterson, Lincoln Park, Pequannock worried about this. Did they worry when they packed over 25,000 people in a center in New Orlean's after Katrina? I don't think so. If they provided a shelter no one would have said anything to Wayne in an emergency situation. The used that to cover themselve's and their uncaring attitude. While part of Wayne drowned in floodwaters they did nothing for the displaced residents. This is the basics of Incident Management to provide food & shelter. Their collective responses at the council meeting was an embaressment. Oh, you can all sleep in the council chambers tonight if you wish and we will post a cop for the night to provide security. Did that shelter comply with all the regulations that they used to state why they couldn't provide a shelter. I don't think so. How bout the health department asking for a permit from the resident feeding displaced people? Are they for real? The schools could have been used but they probably didn't want to mess them up for opening day. All the money in this town and the ball is dropped when displaced taxpayers needed them the most. Maybe we should elect better people to our council instead of those who have the attitude of "If you can't afford the taxes here move".

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