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Nazareth Resident: Pre-Hurricane Sandy information was Lacking

A Nazareth resident told Council that pre-Sandy information available to borough residents was inadequate, lacking details about evacuations and assistance for residents without power.

At least one Nazareth resident feels there was a lack of pre-Hurricane Sandy information tailored to borough residents.

”Nothing about what we should do, where we should go,” said Becky Butz during Nazareth Borough Council’s workshop Thursday night.

Borough secretary/treasurer Paul Kokolus said the mayor’s directive about Sandy was placed on the borough’s website the day before the storm pounded the Lehigh Valley. Vigilance Hose Co. No. 1 also issued a statement, which was posted on its Facebook page and on Nazareth Patch.

Do you agree with Butz? Tell us in the comments section below.

Butz, however, said the pre-Sandy information available to borough residents was inadequate, lacking details about evacuations and assistance for residents without power. She said she was “literally sweating bullets” because of her sister, who is disabled and lives in the nearby Cherry Hill section of Bushkill Township.

She said she called Bushkill fire officials twice to ask about evacuation plans. Both times, she said, the answer was “I don’t know.”

”I hit dead ends wherever I went,” Butz said, telling Council later, “I don’t want to hear from somebody ‘I don’t know.’”

It turns out her sister’s home did not lose power but Butz’s borough home did and also was damaged.

”I’m the one who had the tree fall on her house. I’m the one who had the disaster here,” she said.

She suggested that Council place information about emergencies in the borough’s newsletter.

Council President Dan Chiavaroli said he believes the borough firehouse set up some cots for residents in case they had to leave their homes. He said he would take Butz’s complaints to the borough’s emergency management official.

Other Council members sounded the theme that people must learn to take care of themselves.

Mayor Fred Daugherty Jr. talked of a lesson he took from Sandy. “What’s scary is just how dependent we are on technology. We don’t know how to fend for ourselves.”

Councilwoman Cynthia Werner echoed that theme. “What we need now is to know how to take care of ourselves -- not rely on someone else.”

Carl Strye December 03, 2012 at 03:14 PM
I am surprised to hear this. Everyone needs to take the appropriate pre cautions when a major weather event is forcasted. We were fortunate that this storm was forcast days before it actually hit, so there should be no excuse that they were not ready for it. Sorry to sound so bold, but we must take care of ourselves and prepare for the worst. 99 times out of a hundred someone will be at the firehouse to assist, answer questions or provide information to the public. Shelters would have been set up if needed. This was being discussed amungst the Fireman and emergency management. However, it did not materialize because we did not have to implimement the plan. I cannot stress enough to be prepared. Water, food, flash lights, battery operated radio, candles, ect.... should be available within your household. The fire company was very busy during the storm. I want to thank all the volunteers who left their homes to help others. We were actually passing Upper Nazareth's firetrucks, going back and forth to calls. The emergency management team should now sit down and debrief what was going on. Can we do things better? Play the "what if" game, are some of the questions we should be asking ourselves. Every situation is different and needs to be attacked in different ways. I will guarantee you one thing, we will do everything humanly possible to protect, help and serve our Borough residents during any kind of event within our Borough. Please be patient. We are on our way! C.Strye, Pres
Kaos8 December 03, 2012 at 03:34 PM
A good place to look for this information on how to get prepared is: www.FEMA.Gov (Federal Emergency Management) ; www.PEMA.State.PA.US (Pennsylvania Emergency Management), and www.NC911.Org (Northampton County 911 website, there is supposed to be press releases and emergency information on this site, among a lot of other info); www.erh.noaa.gov/er/phi/ - this is the National Weather Service for our area.. ***The only problem is, you should be looking this stuff up and maybe printing it out, before the storm hits. I know I had almost no internet access through the storm, and could connect almost no cell phone calls for about 3 days.
Kaos8 December 03, 2012 at 03:42 PM
I know that if I had a problem, our power was out, and I could not call 911 if I wanted to, my cell phone would not connect any calls on that day and then it was very spuratic for the next 2 days..I suspect it was due to the overload of people being on the phone, and I had heard that one of the Allentown Cell Towers had gone down. I do not live in town, so I was pretty much on my own, thank God for Generators. I was without power for about a week. I also know that some people called 911 and got put on hold, and some people just disconnected after being on hold. 911 protocol is to call back lost/dropped cell phone calls, both people I talked to never got a call back and I would bet the police were never notified of these dropped/lost 911 calls either. I understand it was a very busy night and next day- however, how do they know it was not a life or death situation? They don't which is why these protocols are in place.... I don't know when this putting 911 callers on hold came about- but both people that made these calls work in Emergency Services and could not believe it happened.
Kaos8 December 03, 2012 at 03:51 PM
SO long story short: You can't rely on someone else to make sure your going to be OK in an emergnecy..Because while you may think your situation is the "Most important thing in the world" - there are 10 ro 20 other people in this area that think the same thing. You need to be prepared to handle things on your own, within reason. I am not saying you will be ignored by emergency services- but these guys have to prioritize and on a day like that I guarantee they were getting there butts handed to them. I am sure they were doing the best that they could do, not to mention, I bet a lot of these people out helping others, also had issues at their own homes, but were out helping everyone else instead. That takes dedication. So my hat's off to all Emergency Management Services (Police, Fire, EMS ).
Wendy Martinez December 03, 2012 at 05:19 PM
I do know we as resident of the LV, A transistor radio on and there was never vital info. as to the whereabouts of shelters or anything!!! We need a local station just for info. during an emergency! Z-95 was playing music like we were at a beach party! We had no electric or land line but were prepared...we had heat, flashlights, water,and a useless radio! And now that I vented, who cares? Not the local gov't that's for sure!
A. Carter December 03, 2012 at 05:20 PM
We had more than enough warning. Maybe it wasn't specific to Nazareth but we had PLENTY of warnings everywhere with enough time for you to research where to go in the event of an emergency. I had damage to my home, was without power for days, etc. BUT I was prepared ON MY OWN. You hear that bad weather is coming, you prepare. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. To blame the borough is nonsense.
Doreen Gehret December 03, 2012 at 05:34 PM
I agree with you Carl. People need to be responsible for them selves. As far as posting resources on the internet, I know a lot of elderly people who do not have the internet or cell phones. I would hope that their families checked on them, have someone distribute the information to them.
Susan Brotzman December 03, 2012 at 05:47 PM
When did it become the government's responsibility to provide for our every need? We were warned well in advance that there would be widespread and prolonged power outages. Every household needs to have a backup plan or be prepared to tough it out. The government should be providing only those services we're unable to provide for ourselves - police, fire, road maintenance, etc.
Tricia Fassl December 03, 2012 at 09:14 PM
There was enough warning for days prior! All tv stations, the news, every where. As an EMT of Bushkill township i was volunteering my time during the storm I am very distraught to hear this. As people may not know, Bushkill, along with Nazareth, Upper Nazareth, and all of Northampton County had a lot of calls both fire and EMS. Myself along with others volunteered for 36 hours to help people out...those times could of been spent with my family who was worried if I was okay or not. There was more then one way to find out about the shelter...you could of called Northampton county, or other fire stations..bushkill went on very little hours of sleep as most other energency personal. If she would of lost power then it would of been an issue, but untill then there should of been no worry. Every firefighter, EMT, & Medic is highly trained for these situations...behind the scenes Northampton county and all the fire & EMS stations have had a pre-plan. So if this ever happens again, please call Northampton county NON-EMERGENCY and they will get you answers. Fire & EMS are very busy during these kinds of situations.
Jeff Fassl December 03, 2012 at 10:01 PM
I to am very surprised to hear this. This storm was in the news for days telling people to prepare. Also a red cross shelter was set up at 2121 City Line Rd. Carl is correct when he stated that Nazareth and Upper Nazareth fire trucks were passing each other going from call to call like a spider web formation. We at Upper Nazareth had our station staffed for 5 days 24 hours a day with our generator running heat in the building and coffee and snacks. Prior to the storm we brought all of the Generators down from the township emergency management municipal building to the fire dept. We deployed some to residents that did not have power and the residents were on breathing machines. They were very grateful and not disappointed. I can tell you this with Upper Nazareth Fire working close with Nazareth Fire, Bushkill Fire & EMS and Hecktown Fire during the storm kudos to them for the great work and dedication these volunteer organizations did during this storm. I, as president of Upper Nazareth Fire dept am thankful to have such good neighbors that can help each other when called on.
Ben Miller December 04, 2012 at 01:39 AM
I agree with Carl 100%. I live in Upper Nazareth and was without power for 4 and a half days, but in that time, I heard MANY sirens and I know the fire and police departments were very busy helping people. Prior to the storm, I found plenty of information on Facebook and in the local news. I will be the first to complain about the police situation in Nazareth, but it this case, the Nazareth Mayor, Council, Fire Department, Police Department and every other group did an excellent job. The same can be said for the people in my own township.
Ben Miller December 04, 2012 at 01:43 AM
Upper Nazareth did a great job. I did not know that about the coffee and snacks (I would have come visited as I was without power for 4 and a half days), but that's my own fault. I did not visit the Upper Nazareth website, call or go to the fire house. I can't blame anyone else for that but me.
Wayne Schissler December 04, 2012 at 02:24 AM
I think when asked about an "evacuation plan" the proper answer, at least better than "I don't know", would have been: "No, there is no evacuation plan... has there ever been a need to evacuate the boro or parts of it? Is any neighborhood in a flood plain? Are we next to a nuclear plant? No. I'm sure if there was a local HazMat disaster police & fire police would notify residents in the affected area to leave." What is needed is a sufficient full time police force that can react and assist in these situations (but that's another Patch article) Nazareth has had its share of hurricanes, blizzards, high winds, torrential rains, etc, over the years. It's not up to the boro to have a plan to deal with every fallen tree or power outage before it actually happens. If there's anxiety when a storm is coming... a personal individual plan to prepare and take care of loved ones and property would go far to alleviate that.
Becky Butz December 04, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Perhaps I should clarify - at no time did I say I was not prepared for the hurricane. You're right, we had plenty of warning. I had plenty of water, food, flash lights, candles, and a battery operated radio. I was very prepared as an individual! I had everyting except a generator, which was cost prohibitive. There were many who did not have the luxury of a generator. I completely agree that we must take care of ourselved during a crisis such as this. But, I also hoped that should it be necessary, some help would be available My main concern was if the electric went out for an extended period of time and we had no neat. What then? Were there shelters available? It was good to have the information on the website, but if you didn't have electric or a computer, you were out of luck. Communicatioin was limited - cell phones weren't even working. I was not blaming the Boro, but why do we have to wait for a crisis to react? Is there such a thing as being prepared for the worst, but hoping for the best? This same topic of "preparedness" came up 2 years ago when we had a tornado warning, but nothing came of it. Why can't there be a "directive" (for lack of a better word) with instructions, phone numbers, etc available to all the residents? You need to PLAN and be PREPARED for these emergencies. Planning for the worst case scenario is key!
Ben Miller December 04, 2012 at 02:39 AM
Couldn't agree more. To the best of my knowledge, Nazareth borough has never been evacuated for any reason and has no need for an evacuation plan. With regard to disaster preparedness, there has always been a longstanding policy that the local fire departments would serve as shelters, should they be needed.
Ben Miller December 04, 2012 at 02:40 AM
I knew they were open as a shelter, but it wasn't that cold and my family and I were ok with the candlelight.
A. Carter December 04, 2012 at 04:45 PM
And if you were properly prepared you would have known that you had plenty of time beforehand to learn where to go if you were without power for days. They were shelters available, its called google. You search and you learn. I found out all this stuff DAYS before the hurricane hit.
Becky Butz December 04, 2012 at 05:31 PM
It might be important to note that not all people have comupters. And I agree that planning ahead is important. A. Carter - What exactly did you google? Where were these shelters? I believe the Red Cross didn't announce the shelter address in Bethlehem until Tuesday. I was told that the generators at the Nazareth Fire Department were only there to open and close the doors to let the fire trucks and ems vehicles out in case of emergencies. Ben - would you define this "long standing policy" with the fire departments about servings as shelters? And how the residents were to know about the policy? Ask some people - there were a variety of ideas - the school, a church, and maybe the fire department. Don't you think it would be nice if we were all on the same page?? I'm just asking for this information to be distributed to ALL the residents, not just those "in the know" or those you have computers. It's called planning ahead...........
Carl Strye December 04, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Unfortunately, it does take a disaster to get results and ask yourself if you or we are prepared. I have asked for a debriefing meeting with, the Mayor, Bob, from the Hiway department, Mike Rinker, from Emergency management, Chief Trachta, Ambulance personell and certain fire company personell. We need to go over what happened and ask ourselves "what if?" However, the citizens of the Borough should realize that if something major does happen, we will prepared and the immediate area will be notified of where to go and what to do. Every situation is different and needs to be handled as it unfolds. We have been fortunate in the past, however how this weather is now being predicted, we could be starting a trend that no one wants to see. Myself or the Mayor will report back to council what we discussed. This is a priority and concern with me also, so I will push for answers and the necessary information you are seeking.
Ben Miller December 04, 2012 at 10:35 PM
Thank you, Carl, for this and for all that you do in the interest of Nazareth. The community is lucky to have you.
rick troxell December 05, 2012 at 04:10 AM
Carl is absolutely right. It is time for those who protected and helped us through the storm to debrief. The police,volunteer firemen and women,EMT's and road depts did an outstanding job in our communities and working together helped many in need during the height of the storm.and the days that followed. Finally someone (Carl ) has proposed a debriefing of those personnel. I personally was very impressed by their actions. Men from the Vigilance helped check on my neighbor and kept roads open or in some cases closed because of hazards during the storm. Neighbors checked on neighbors. We are lucky to have the committment we have in this area from both volunteer and paid public employees in such adverse conditions.This was surely an eye opener and You can bet alot was learned and when shared by those that protected us a plan will be formulated because of their commitment to us,their neighbors.
rick troxell December 09, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Just do one thing.. keep council out of it or all you may get is NO COMMENT or an evacuation plan for the local bars when the LCB is in town:-).

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