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Monday, July 1, 2019

Councilors Davis and Armady rise to the challenge of Saturday's storm emergency

Councilor Davis posted a selfie with Councilor
Armady while they were out assessing the damage.

Plainfield's least senior elected officials -- Councilor Ashley Davis (Ward 1) and Councilor Elton Armady (Citywide at-large) -- suddenly became its most senior elected officials Saturday evening (June 29), when Mother Nature threw a spitball at the Queen City. (Councilor Storch, the most senior Council member, was out of town.)

With all of Plainfield's Most Important People at a conference in Honolulu, the junior elected officials were left to deal with the emergency situation generated by the storm that came out of nowhere to wreak damage in some sections of the city, while the rest barely noticed the tempest.

Davis and Armady joined an emergency meeting of Police, Fire, Public Works to deal with the situation. Word in the street is that Municipal Clerk "Ajay" Jalloh was left in charge in the absence of the Mayor and the Business Administrator, though I am not aware of any public announcement to that effect.

The two also toured the affected areas -- with Superintendent of Public Works John Louise as their guide -- to assess the damage from downed trees and wires. The most severe damage was in the Second Ward, with one area in the First Ward, and a power outage affecting the entire Senior residence Cedar Brook Towers (1272 Park Avenue).

No lives were lost and property damage appeared to be mostly minimal (except for Councilor Storch, whose garage was demolished by a falling tree, with his son's car inside it).

Once PSE&G cleared away downed wires, crews got to work cutting up the downed trees and removing the debris. DPW trucks and crews were seen hard at work all day Sunday cleaning up the mess.

I got a storm alert from Somerset County Safety on my phone shortly after 5:00 PM.

The storm hit the West End towards 5:30 and -- at least in our neighborhood -- lasted for only a minute or two. My driveway was barely wet.

Jenn Popper posted this PSE&G map of downed wires.

It wasn't until I started to put the CLIPS blog together around 9:00 PM that I came across Jenn Popper's coverage of the storm (see her story here). She posted several photos of downed trees in areas that she was able to get to and information from PSE&G on service outages.

Councilor Davis posted to her Facebook page (see here) several times over the weekend -- warning people to avoid downed wires, advising of an emergency meeting, and noting nearly total cleanup by Sunday afternoon (with power out initially to 1800 homes, only 150 were without power Sunday afternoon).

Councilor Davis is a model of staying in touch with constituents that others could emulate to their benefit.

Thankfully, it wasn't necessary to contact the Governor's office to invoke a state of emergency, but the experience ought to cause city officials to reconsider the wisdom of its apparently secretive policy (if, indeed, there is one) of denoting a chain of command when so many officials -- the Mayor, four Councilors, and the Business Administrator, the Mayor's Chief of Staff, and the Director of Economic Development -- are out of the city at the same time.

Establishing a standardized, formalized designation of a chain of command would seem, after this close escape, to be a matter of prudence, as well as reassuring to the public.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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