News Department

Morris County agencies praised for storm and flood response

MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – County and municipal emergency response agencies were praised by the Morris County Board of County Commissioners this week for their efforts to rescue, assist and aid residents impacted by flooding and power outages — including two house fires — after more than four inches of rain deluged the area Sunday and Monday.

One fire in Roxbury Township tragically claimed the life of a 98-year-old woman and left a 71-year-old male resident in critical condition. In Lincoln Park, high floodwaters required boat deployments to the scene of the blazing house, which fortunately was vacant. Local firefighters were aided on both scenes by the county’s Medical Ambulance Bus (MAB), tactical field communications team and county fire coordinators.

“We had two fires at each end of the county, there have been missing people the last couple days, just a lot of different challenges. Our first responders of all disciplines stepped up and were there. The county’s Law & Public Safety team has been doing a tremendous job supporting the local efforts throughout this storm. I want to thank everyone for what they’ve done,” said Commissioner Doug Cabana, liaison to the Department of Law and Public Safety.

With municipal police, firefighters, EMS and emergency management agencies, the response effort included the Morris County Department of Law and Public Safety’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Services Unit (ESU), Morris County fire coordinators and the members of the county’s critical Morris County 9-1-1/Communications Center.

The Morris Count Human Services Department’s Office of Temporary Assistance has been helping residents with temporary shelter placements due to power and flood issues, and the Navigating Hope mobile unit is scheduled to make trips into communities throughout the holiday season. The Red Cross has also been supporting local operations.

“I want to thank all the county staff and our local law enforcement, fire departments, first responders and volunteers for their coordination and assistance. This was a massive response by first responders of all disciplines on multiple levels and at many different scenes. There were several fires and emergency rescues. The local response ensured the safety of our citizens, encouraging people to evacuate and relocate to temporary shelters,” said Commissioner Director John Krickus.

“It is important to note that an effective response doesn’t just happen as these events take place. Our county agencies prepare for these emergencies, assessing potential impacts and communicating with local responders before disaster hits,” Krickus said.

Weather analysis helped the county’s Office of Emergency Management better plan for the weekend’s storm as data revealed that water levels would rise higher than Hurricane Ida. The Rockaway River and Whippany River both crested at 7 feet, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. In Pequannock, the Pompton River crested over 21 feet, and there was heavy street flooding in Lincoln Park where the river converges with the Passaic River.

“Behind the scenes, a lot of activity is happening at the county level in preparation for any storm. We’re continually monitoring the weather forecast data with the Morris County Sheriff’s Office and our State partners to be in a better position to support our Morris County municipalities in the event that critical issues are escalated and county assets need to be deployed. It was a pleasure dealing with the many first responders on a variety of scenes throughout the county, all of whom shared a common goal of serving others,” said Jeff Paul, Director of Morris County’s Office of Emergency Management.

With roadways closed to vehicular traffic — including Route 23 North and South from Pequannock to Wayne Township — Lincoln Park, Dover and Denville were impacted particularly hard, with Pequannock Township experiencing the worst flooding. Local responders encouraged people living in flood-prone areas to evacuate and relocate to temporary shelters set up at senior centers in their municipalities.

“It’s been a busy couple of days for our first responders. The County Emergency Communications Center handled a very large volume of 9-1-1 calls when the flooding was happening. Our dispatchers did a tremendous job handling the high call volume and dispatching many emergency responders. Our County EMS crews responded to almost 100 calls. In the middle of the rain, a van with 13 senior citizens was in an accident in Morris Township. Based on the large number of patients, our County EMS ambulance and Mobile Ambulance responded along with the Morris Minutemen Emergency Medical Services, Morris Township Fire Department, and Morris Township Police Department. Ultimately, the EMS and Fire responders assessed all the patients with several that were transported to the Morristown Medical Center. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt,” said Scott DiGiralomo, Director of Law and Public Safety.

DiGiralomo also detailed the tactical dispatch that the county implemented during this emergency response effort. The new program developed this year places specially trained seasoned dispatchers at the scene to virtually communicate through radio and phone system equipment as they work with incident commanders. Tethered drones at the fire in Roxbury provided immediate aerial coverage of the scene.

“Truly it’s about partnerships. It’s hard to pull apart police, fire, EMS and OEM, because we’re all moving in the same direction. People move in the same direction, and there is power in the word ‘yes’. If someone calls and says they have an issue and they would like to resolve it, can you help us? We’ll say ‘yes’, we’ll figure it out somehow. It’s a tribute to the entities throughout the county that make it all happen across Morris County and beyond,” said Sheriff James M. Gannon.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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