This past weekend, as Hurricane Irene blew through Hoboken, I proudly watched the city I love come together like I’ve rarely witnessed before. Last Friday, many of us on Hoboken’s City Council were able to attend Mayor Zimmer’s emergency press conference urging residents to evacuate Hoboken. Immediately following the press conference, I was able to help hand out informative flyers to residents returning home via the PATH train. Countless citizens politely stopped or slowed down and took the letter from the mayor. Some asked questions. All were respectful and thankful for receiving information regarding the hurricane.
The following day, I was proud to witness volunteers from Stevens walk through our neighborhoods, spreading the word about a mandatory evacuation of ground level homes. Simultaneously, our CERT team efficiently ran operations out of City Hall, calling residents to prepare them for the upcoming storm, and otherwise preparing for possible consequences of Irene. Public Safety patrolled the streets, were highly visible and assuring, and announced evacuations.
Finally, Saturday afternoon, I had the privilege of joining teams of volunteers who walked through our city’s senior citizen housing; checking on seniors, explaining there were buses to take them to our hurricane shelter, ensuring they had a week’s supply of important medications, and publicizing the possibility of a power outage to those using medical devices. Our seniors were the calmest people I personally encountered that day, and were reassuring during a crisis.
As the storm eventually came and went, and the relative placidity of Sunday afternoon rolled around, our city remained calm, cool, and collective. People gathered on sidewalks and discouraged neighbors from walking through flooded intersections. Others called city officials to inform them of power outages, while still others brought ice, water, and supplies to those living in areas hardest hit by the flooding. Through this all, the exceptional residents, leadership, volunteers, and public safety officials of Hoboken were helpful and supportive of one another.
Finally, at the end of the evening, I saw firsthand how wonderful a job volunteers and our CERT team were doing working telephone lines set up in City Hall; answering a wide array of calls from Hoboken residents, business owners, and workers.
Given this experience, I wanted to write this letter to personally thank all those volunteers, city workers, public safety members, the administration, and residents of the community who either evacuated town, prepared neighbors, pitched in, helped maintain safety, or simply lent a helping hand and a sympathetic ear during this extraordinary weather-event. Nobody ever wants to see a community face a dangerous hurricane, especially not in a city as flood prone as Hoboken. However, it’s often when a community is tested that it shows its true mettle. Our community is, and has always been rock solid. But that goes without saying, because anyone who witnessed how well Hoboken responded to Hurricane Irene already knows the exceptional quality of its character.
City Councilman at-Large