Government Maplewood Police and Fire

Maplewood Mayor: Storm Response & Emergency Communications Can and Will Improve

From Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca:

November 17, 2018

To the Maplewood Community:

Maplewood’s Emergency Management Team reviewed the Township’s response to Thursday’s snow storm and will be taking steps in the future to improve our storm response and the timeliness and clarity of our emergency communications.

The severity of this storm was unexpected. The Department of Public Works was prepared for a minor snow event of 1 to 2 inches not for the 6+ inches of snow we received. On Thursday morning, salt trucks were loaded and equipped with plows. Around 3pm we started the salting operation but our trucks became stuck in the traffic jams and unable to complete their salting routes. Shortly thereafter we began plowing and faced similar difficulties with traffic. In all we had 17 trucks and tractors out on the street and a full complement of DPW personnel. The DPW men and women worked around the clock to clear our streets from the morning commute, coordinating their work with our police department.

Essex County, which is responsible to plow Valley Street, Wyoming Avenue, Millburn Avenue and Irvington Avenue, also had difficulties getting plow trucks through the traffic jams. This delay in plowing and salting made those roads difficult to travel.

The Maplewood Police Department received over 600 calls on Thursday, including 119 calls for service to 911. Most of the calls were for traffic , vehicle accident and parking related issues. Police assisted over 100 stranded motorists and coordinated efforts with the Fire and Public Works Departments to respond to emergencies. The police did not issue any overnight parking tickets. We realize our message about overnight parking restrictions could have been clearer and conveyed better. We will improve our communication in the future.

We canceled jitney service in the afternoon and sent out electronic messages regarding the cancelation. We heard from some commuters that they did not get that message. In the future we will continue to send out electronic messages and use social media and we will post printed notices about the cancelation at the train station.

Decisions about school closures and early dismissals are made by the Board of Education but they do confer with Township officials. As part of our review of Thursday’s event, we will have a conversation with school district personnel to make sure the decision making system is fine tuned.

Some residents have asked about leaf collection. We will restart the collection of leaves as per the DPW schedule and notify you about any adjustments to that schedule.

We heard from many of you about your terrible traffic experiences on the roads in Maplewood. We also heard that our communications could have been more sensitive and timely. We agree and are committed to making changes and improve our delivery of services.

Thank you.

Mayor Vic De Luca

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