Lacey’s volunteer emergency services responded to more than 300 assignments during Hurricane Sandy, Deputy Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Bob Resetar said at Thursday’s Committee meeting.
“You just can’t match them,” Committeeman Dave Most said of the volunteers. Much of the meeting was spent thanking those workers.
The majority of Lacey’s residents heeded the township’s mandatory evacuation request, Resetar said. Approximately 7,000 residents were evacuated to county shelters.
“Because of that, I think countless lives were saved,” he said.
But, as part of those 300 assignments, along with the police department and public works, 60 lives were saved, he said.
The Dive Team alone did 30 calls, more than they’ve done in three years, Resetar said.
“It’s not just a call. They were over there heads with water in town and out of town,” he said. “We were dispatching them to structure fires in Berkeley Township where the only way they can get to these fires were with our guys on boat. They were only going in looking for survivors at that point.”
The Bamber Lake Fire Department alone made 65 responses during the height of the storm, he said.
Public Works and the Recreation Department also assisted. Recreation Director Jim Wioland dispatched buses to help with evacuations. Employees of the Public Works department took a resident in a wheel chair out of a second story window with a bucket loader, Resetar said.
“We had all hands on deck and we got through it,” he said.
And Resetar was the one coordinating it all, Mayor Mark Dykoff said.
“No one could have imagined what we were in for. From day one to day, I don't know how many...there was Mr. Resetar, controlling things, staying calm, communicating with the county. This township is forever in your debt," Dykoff said.
Once the storm subsided, the Lacey United Methodist Church as well as the community as a whole was right there to help, Dykoff said. The church “filled in a gap.”
“Lacey is definitely the best,” Pastor Linda Applegate of the Lacey United Methodist Church said. She thanked the volunteers and restaurant owners who have been donating supplies and food.
The church has trained more than 400 disaster teams that helped at more than 200 homes ripping carpet, taking down sheet rock, moving belongings to the curb and offering support to the community, she said.
“It was great to see people working together for a cause much bigger than themselves,” Committeeman Sean Sharkey said.
Approximately 9,000 meals have been served with the help of all the restaurants in town, she said.
“It’s been truly a divine intervention. I just praise God and thank all the people of Lacey,” Applegate said.
Committeeman Gary Quinn lives in an area that was hit by the storm surge. The next morning groups from the church were in the neighborhood offering food.
“Just having people come out like they did made them feel like they weren’t forgotten out there,” he said.
The church is currently looking for ways to partner with laundromats to get vouchers for those families who are displaced and have a plethora of additional expenses since the storm struck, she said. She added that she would like to see the old Rite Aid used as a temporary shelter for multiple families that were displaced.
Applegeate is also hoping to connect with those who are still stranded and uninterested in going to the church for assistance.
“I’m concerned about their physical well-being, mental well-being as well as their spiritual well-being,” she said.
As time goes on, the township will re-evaluate its procedures and actions that were carried out during Hurricane Sandy.
“We have to consider this a learning tool because moving forward we have to become more self sufficient,” Quinn said.
Most agreed. “There’s many things we’ll be discussing in the future in this town to improve things,” he said. “We’ll get back…and I think eventually we’ll come back to a normal life.”