In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Manchester officials discussed how the township handled the storm and said they plan to hold a meeting to determine what worked and what could be done better should severe weather again impact the area.
Members of the Township Council on Monday praised the efforts of police, public works and emergency volunteers who responded following the storm that devastated parts of New Jersey.
"They did a great effort," said council President Craig Wallis, who attended the meeting through telephone. "They were out there the whole time."
While some neighboring communities experienced severe damage that destroyed homes and displaced families, Manchester mostly dealt with downed trees and powerlines and days-long electricity outages.
Business Administrator Elena Zsoldos added her appreciation for the work done by "all of our employees — police, fire, first aid — they were all wonderful during this storm," she said.
Additionally, Wallis said that "many" residents stepped up to volunteer their time to help others.
"So I'm definitely thankful to them. It was a large impact on our community and we made it through, mostly, pretty well," he said.
Whiting resident Tom Gilligan said during the meeting's public comment portion that while he appreciated the efforts of Manchester's personnel, he said that more information could have been provided to residents on the township website before Sandy struck.
"It didn't even say in the event that it was needed, where there would be shelters," he said.
Chief of Police Brian Klimakowski said that information was available on the township and police department websites and authorities keep a database of special needs residents they monitored throughout the storm. The township did not have the resources to open its own shelter, which is why any Manchester residents who needed to evacuate were told to utilize a shelter run by Ocean County.
"I'm not criticising what was done," Gilligan said. "I think that these things need to be looked at."
Zsoldos thanked Gilligan for his input and said that officials plan to hold a meeting to determine what worked and what could be done better should another severe storm impact the area.
Council member Sam Fusaro acknowledged that it was difficult for some residents to stay informed through the township's reverse 9-1-1 calls because many modern phone systems rely on electricity to work. With a large percentage of residents without power during and after Sandy, they could have missed vital information.
"Most service goes when power goes," Fusaro said, adding that the township should work with residents to ensure that cell phone numbers are registered to the system in addition to landlines.
Handling an election just days after Sandy was "some chaos," said Clerk Sabina Skibo.
"But it was controlled chaos in the office. Everyone was very patient," Skibo said. "My staff worked approximately 30 hours over two days trying to get polling places back up, moving people around."
One of Manchester's 40 voting districts was closed because of Sandy and residents who normally used the site were offered a bus to a nearby polling location.
"They had to scramble and they did a great job getting everything up and running," Zsoldos said of the employees in the clerk's office.
Zsoldos said that tax bills were mailed on a delay and residents have until the end of November to pay them.