Over the last two weeks, Long Branch Mayor Adam Schneider has been keeping city residents up to date on the recovery process for Hurricane Sandy through the Code Red alert message system
On Thursday night, Mayor Schneider decided to give his thoughts on the hurricane, the evacuation process and had high praise for the city's emergency officials.
Here is Mayor Schneider's message to Long Branch residents on Thursday night:
Mandatory evacuation didn’t mean everyone had to leave. Saturday October 27, two days before Sandy struck, a meeting of emergency services management was held at city hall.
Evacuation orders had been issued for everyone east of Ocean Boulevard, and North Long Branch from essentially from Avenel Avenue to Monmouth Beach. Despite the legal right to order people out of their homes for the duration of the storm, city officials decided that while we strongly recommended people get themselves out of harms way we wouldn’t force the issue.
We publicly stated that there would come a point on Monday when city personal would be pulled off the streets rather than endanger their safety. Even with the horrific weather reports we didn’t expect the situation to turn so dangerous so quickly.
By 5 o’clock in the afternoon the ocean was coming down Atlantic and Avenel Avenues and the river was over its banks. The lifesaving station at Takanassee Lake was surrounded by water. High tide was three hours away.
The water surged over the banks of the river while four foot wakes were braking on Long Branch Avenue. What time it hit depended on where you live.
Wind was gusting up to 80 miles an hour and debris and trees were crashing all over. City crews in the large army surplus vehicles we’ve purchased just for storm use were out in 4 to 6 feet of water pulling people to safety.
Cops, paid fireman, DPW workers and volunteers were tying themselves to the trucks swimming and wading into the cold water to get people from their homes. The trucks were literally floating at one point on Long Branch Avenue but fortunately everyone made their way out of the water and back to fire headquarters.
We’re very fortunate that no lives were lost that night. People in town need to know that fireman, cops and OEM were out that night risking their lives.
I don’t know that we’ll ever face a storm as severe as Sandy again but extreme weather is happening more often. People who were rescued have told me that they’re not waiting to leave next time. They’ll get out voluntarily.