The Fort Lee Mayor and Council voted Thursday to authorize $1 million in emergency appropriations for expenses resulting from Hurricane Sandy, but Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich said he expects the borough to get a lot of that money back.
The two resolutions, both of which the Council approved unanimously, appropriate $500,000 to pay for police overtime and an additional $500,000 to pay for “storm incurred emergency expenses.”
“Hurricane Sandy brought a lot of things to Fort Lee—not only 95-mile-an-hour winds and downed trees—it brought expense,” Sokolich said. “This administration will do everything possible to recoup as much of this money as possible, whether it’s FEMA, whether it’s through any other governmental source that we can get it from or any other grant.”
He said the governing body was authorizing the appropriation Thursday “because we need to get these bills paid.”
“This doesn’t mean that we’ve lost it; as a matter of fact, we anticipate recovering a lot of it,” said Sokolich, who declared a state of emergency in Fort Lee the day after the storm devastated much of the region.
All of the Council members lauded borough employees and emergency services for the work they did during the storm and its aftermath, including Council president Joseph Cervieri, who said, “Everything wasn’t perfect, but I can tell you, we scored an A or an A-minus.”
“We didn’t end up with anything to be ashamed of,” he said.
Councilwoman Ila Kasofsky added that the work hasn’t stopped after Sandy, reporting that the Fort Lee Health Department has re-inspected all of the eating establishments and grocery stores in the borough.
Kasofsky held up a list of 135 restaurants and stores that were given a clean bill of health.
“So everything has been thrown out, and you have healthy, clean food,” she said.
Sokolich also said reaching people left without power, phones, Internet access or other means of communication was one of the biggest challenges officials faced during and in the aftermath of Sandy.
“We did everything we could; we need to work on a few things,” Sokolich said. “But … we have a free citizen notification service; it’s called Nixle. And I’m going to go as far as telling everyone in the public that I believe it’s your public duty to subscribe to this free service.”
Signing up for Nixle is easy, Sokolich said. You simply visit the borough’s website and click on the Nixle box, and the registration process is easy. You can receive notifications by text, email or both, he noted.
“Now, would that have reached everyone? No it wouldn’t have,” Sokolich said. “But it would have reached a large segment of the population that we weren’t able to get to.”