A Year After Blizzard, Lessons Learned in Brick

Township should be more prepared now thanks to committee, purchases

A year later, and the numbers are still staggering:

  • 34 inches of snow
  • $1.4 million in cleanup costs
  • 49 out of Brick Township’s 72 trucks stuck in the snow
  • 11 ambulances stuck in snow drifts
  • 29,000 calls to town hall

The blizzard that during the late afternoon hours Dec. 26, 2010 was one for the books. The storm lasted until late morning the following day, and most Brick residents hadn't been able to leave their homes for several more days.

The township began its snow removal operation before the flakes began falling, Dec. 26, at 2 a.m. Trucks dispatched from the public works facility on Ridge Road began salting and pouring brine solution on township roads, and plows were out by late afternoon that same day. However, at 11 p.m. on Dec. 26, plows were called back after white-out conditions began causing a number of plow trucks to .

No pieces of equipment were spared. A tandem dump truck became stuck about 100 yards from the Ridge Road facility, Councilman Michael Thulen said after the storm. Officials sent a vehicle designed to retrieve disabled Army tanks to remove the tandem, but the retrieval vehicle blew its transmission during the towing operation.

At one point or another during the storm, 49 out of the township’s 72 trucks were stuck in the snow or otherwise disabled in some way, Thulen said at the time.

The township was plagued by mishaps during the snow removal operation, including reports that contractors called in to supplement municipal crews left Brick because they were to be paid more money for their services in neighboring towns. In the end, out-of-state crews were brought in to make township streets passable again, but not before residents were about what they saw as a too-slow response despite the storm's historic power.

A year later, there have been some changes.

A committee the week after the storm made some recommendations. The township is now maintaining a list of about 100 streets for prioritized plowing in order to free up routes out of neighborhoods. An emergency call center based out of the township municipal complex will field calls from residents during storms, and the township is maintaining a list of contractors that are held on standby to help public works crews remove snow.

Additionally, the township purchased two – one will be stationed on each side of town during storms – which will supplement a Hummer ambulance at the Dover-Brick EMS on the barrier island.

The communications solution that came out of the committee was during Hurricane Irene, when police officers and officials remained stationed at the to field calls from residents and manage personnel.

"We learned a lot," said Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis, when contacted by Brick Patch earlier this week. "A lot of it is about talking to people and communicating with people."

Surely, for many Brick residents who'd rather go back to those many snow-free winters of yesteryear at the Jersey Shore, there's just one solutiuon: think spring.

BW December 28, 2011 at 02:06 PM
It is a shame they didnt learn the real lesson that came out of this. That leasson is STOP playing politics and do what you are supposed to do. If Acropolis had not sent everyone home, we NOT have had the mess we had. While we were digging out our unplowed roads by hand, Acropolis was playing politics on Fox News. If we had another blizzard tomorrow NOTHING would change!
Jerseyclone December 28, 2011 at 02:30 PM
nan December 28, 2011 at 03:36 PM
Not everyone can get B-20. Ditto use of PC. You are right posting is not the answer. Notice plus enforcement is necessary. But in reality this snowfall was too much too fast to ever handle effectively.
Concerned Brick Citizen December 28, 2011 at 05:57 PM
I agree 100 percent! Get the cars off the street. There are many selfish people who just don't care. Time to make a law and enforce the law. My neighbor even had a portable basketball hoop in the street as well as a car blocking progress. They have a large garage and a drive way they could have used. The privilege 30 somethings are just self-centered. I’m angered that the township doesn’t do anything to improve this situation. This would solve a big part of the snow removal problem. My neighborhood is one of the older ones with narrow streets. However there is a way for at least 98% of the homeowners to park off street. If you don’t have space ask a neighbor or local business.
Concerned Brick Citizen December 28, 2011 at 06:00 PM
Me I agree. I bet if we had another storm like this, I would be snowed in again for three days. -- No services for my high taxes. What a Rip!
Daniel Nee (Editor) December 28, 2011 at 06:50 PM
CBC -- The laws for everything you mentioned already exist. The township has a snow emergency ordinance: § 288-53. Schedule XXIII: Snow Emergencies. In accordance with the provisions of § 288-29, whenever snow has fallen and the accumulation is such that it covers the street or highways, an emergency shall exist, and no vehicles shall be parked on the following streets or highways or portions thereof: ALL Additionally, it is against STATE law for basketball hoops to be set up in public streets, whether it's snowing or not. Some towns aggressively enforce this. Offhand, I know Manasquan does. Now, enforcement is another matter. But laws covering both the cars and the basketball hoops do exist.
BW December 28, 2011 at 06:55 PM
Dan, I know last year in Howell, the actually sent police officers out to ticket cars parked on the streets during snow storms, and in some cases had them towed. Brick has the law on the books, but as with other laws on the books here, they either do not get enforced or are selectivly enforced.
Concerned Brick Citizen December 28, 2011 at 07:16 PM
Dan, the problem is that the laws are not enforced. I wish Brick police would take action. The reverse 911 calls mean nothing. Or maybe the family only has a cell phone thus never receiving the call. This is kind of like the texting and driving issue. If police don’t enforce the law people will not abide the law. The portable basketball hoop issue has been “legally” solved in my neighborhood, but they still remain a nuisance due to lack of further ordances. I think during the next snow storm the police need to start ticketing people who violate the law or tow their vehicles. I know I said this in the past, but I’ve lived in other cities that did not tolerate these violations. I had to move my car period!
Dennis December 28, 2011 at 08:26 PM
It's good to see people remember who really failed us. Our Mayor and the clowns did.
morrissey December 28, 2011 at 10:21 PM
Acrapolis should have went to Disney World
Jim December 28, 2011 at 11:26 PM
It was like a one two punch. 1st I had to shovel out my street. Then my property taxes went up 50%. Acropolis is done. Cant believe I voted for that bum.
morrissey December 29, 2011 at 12:36 AM
Keep paying those property taxes so Pezzaras and Bellu can live off your hard earned money
Joseph Woolston Brick December 29, 2011 at 01:05 AM
Let's us all hope, that between now and the day Acropolis and the rest of his dimwits are shown the door, that we have nice mild winters.
Mickey December 29, 2011 at 02:20 AM
can't help but notice Artie, Councilman Dan or John C are MIA on this topic.
clamdigger December 29, 2011 at 06:10 AM
I can't believe people are still whining about that storm. I have never been a strong supporter of this administration but to say that storm was managable is not a correct statement or assumption. I said it back then and I still stand by my words that if Brick was the only Twp in the state or the region to have the problems we did then the complaining and whining would be justified and I would stand with that also. If I remember correctly, that storm was origionally forecast to drop only up to 24" of snow, we got 34". Anyone who can read a yard stick should be able to see the difference of how those extra 10" of snow could be a HUGE difference. If our trucks were out during the white out conditions, could you imagine if one of our trucks would have hit a fire hydrant or a telephone pole. I don't remember any powrer outages in town so think of that. Was it a good idea to send drivers home? NO it wasn't but what do you think should have been done with them? How do you feed them? How do they get the sleep necessary? Is there a bunk room avail to them? Finally, as for the contractors who may have left, well that's for the council and Twp lawyer to draw up new contracts which hold contractors to their word and impose heavy fines for those who break that contract in hopes of making a greater profit. Should there be a plan in place yes & it should be reviewed often. I know I'll catch hell for this so go ahead and let it rip, I'm anxious to read the responses.
Concerned Brick Citizen December 29, 2011 at 02:31 PM
"The township is now maintaining a list of about 100 streets for prioritized plowing in order to free up routes out of neighborhoods..." I wonder what street are on the list. I would like to see that published.
Concerned Brick Citizen December 29, 2011 at 02:37 PM
29,000 calls to town hall -- Once I called after day 2, I was told that I would put on a list of streets that had not been plowed. Unfortunatly calling in seemed to be the only way to get some action. Ironically more people called then voted in the May election.
Mickey December 29, 2011 at 04:04 PM
"clamdigger" you've always shown logic in all your past posts, so no one is going to "give you hell"....but here comes the but. the article appeared about lessons learned and most found it comical how "now" so much thought & preparation is going to be implemented by the mayor. after all the mud slinging & blame placed on others, he's now seen the light, yet no apology to the DPW or residents. it was a major storm, but obviously there wasn't a plan in place for one.
Mickey December 29, 2011 at 04:09 PM
along with where the "friends & relatives" live...bet you'd find alot in common.
BW December 29, 2011 at 04:10 PM
Mikey you have to remember Bellu told the press that the town could spend its reserves because "there are no emergencies in the forseeable future" so there was no money to handle a major storm.
Concerned Brick Citizen December 29, 2011 at 05:24 PM
I have another question to ask because I’m ignorant on this subject. What streets are Brick Township required to plow? If the state and county take care of the major routes (70, 88, 549 Brick Blvd.. 528 Mantoloking Rd., etc.) through town, then all the township is required to do is take care of the local streets off these routes. I know the primary routes were cleared on day 1. Why did it take 3 plus days to clear out streets which are secondary and tertiary from these state and county routes? Was this a major failure due to incompetence as well as poor planning? There should be no reason that a one plow pass could have been completed on my tertiary street prior to the next day.
clamdigger December 29, 2011 at 06:55 PM
Hello Mickey, thanks for the response as well as the comment. Plans are a good things to have, but unfortunately I do not believe we can just lump in a one size fits all plan of operation for situations like this. 10" of snow is less drastic than an excess of 30" & let's not forget the snow drifts also which can make some areas even deeper. I believe that our town council,mayor,head of DPW should reach out to more experienced municipalities who are familiar w/ snow removal on a very large scale & get their input as a alternate course of attack. Even if we need to pay a consulting fee to an outside municipality for them to see engineering reports of our streets, locations of important buildings,etc. Is that necessary? I don't know, but IMO experience is a great resource to fall back on. Our officials may believe they have a good plan of attack, but someone may have a better plan which has proven in the past to be more efficient. We've had many storms before this one which caused such an uproar, but this is the one where the stuff hit the fan. After previous storms why want's a plan put into place? Who knows. A plan should be in place and made public knowledge (Twp website) along with an estimated time line of how long it would take to have your street/neighborhood and closest major road cleared given any specific snow fall. There is an old saying somehting about even the best laid plans get fouled up sometimes,so let's not get too excited if they make a decision.
disgusted homeowner December 30, 2011 at 01:27 AM
A neighbor of mine is a very long time employee at Public Works and he told me more than once that many of our snow plowing trucks are just plain shot or are about to fail and no money is being spent to correct this. How can these emploees do the job if their equipment is so run down???? That is the MAYOR'S fault along with his council cronies. Just shows he doesn't have any regard for the safety of the taxpayer at large. Bought loads of new shovels this year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Scott Pezarras December 30, 2011 at 02:06 AM
CBC Primary routes were not all cleared in one day, 70, 88, and 35 took several days to be cleared. Rt. 35 was not done until the Thursday after the storm. We had to send officers down there so people didn't try to pass the uncleared portion of the road. The County took several days to open up roadways. The Twp has more road lane miles than either the State or the County in Brick Twp. We have approx 780 lane miles of roadway the we are responsible for, and a large portion of our streets are dead ends and cul de sacs (nowhere to push a snow of that magnitude). Once we were able to secure more heavy equipment form outside contractors, we were able to make some headway. Our new third contract secured the pieces of equipment that DPW told us they need to handle a large storm like the one we encountered last year. The contract calls for 77 pieces of equipment in addition to the 26 pieces of snow removing the Twp has available.
Scott Pezarras December 30, 2011 at 02:10 AM
Me The township had the money to handle the storm from its surplus balance. We just passed an emergency so we could replenish the surplus. If we had no funds to handle the storm, we would of had to issue bonds or notes to pay the workers and the outside contractors.
Jim December 30, 2011 at 03:17 AM
Princeton Ave was open on Tuesday after the storm. The side streets were plowed by friends of friends and in my case my hand. Acroplis is an incopentent piece of garbage. What has that guy accomplished in life? We are supposed to expect him to lead our town? That doesn't say much for the Democratic cronies we have in there now. One is a 32 year old bankrupt commie from UC Berkeley. What has she done with her life? She is supposed to lead us? For Christ sake. Someone with some spare time step up. Audit the books and step up. I guarantee you will win.
clamdigger December 30, 2011 at 03:24 AM
hello Mr.Pezarras, I thought we operated under the law that states we are not permitted to carry a surplus or establish a "slush fund/emergency fund". I thought we had a "use it or lose it" type law especially if we receive state funds in any way. if I'm wrong,I'm wrong but I thought this was something which was established long ago. Can you elaborate on the emergency fund and if I'm off base? Thanks.
Scott Pezarras December 30, 2011 at 05:00 AM
Clam You are thinking of S-1701 which pertains to schools. They must not carry more than a 2% of operating budget as a surplus balance. Municipalities do not have this restriction, as you go through an operating year you acquire cash and cashflow, through tax collections, misc. revenues, and by the end of an operating year you could have excess revenues anticipated in your budget. This is what regenerates surplus to utilize in the following years budget. Call me and I will be happy to explain this further. You can remain anonymous, just leave a call back number if I am unavailable. My number is 732-262-1050.
BW December 30, 2011 at 01:31 PM
Princeton and the other county roads on this end of town, where ALL open and plowed with in 24 hours. Have to love it, one year later and Acropolis is STILL trying to do damage control, right Scott. Remeber Bellu said we do not need a slush fund because "there are no emergencies in the forseeable future". Just once I would like to see this admin stand up and "we are sorry we screwed up"
Concerned Brick Citizen December 30, 2011 at 05:33 PM
My understanding was that the state and county roads were passible within 24 hours after the storm. I found it unacceptable that my street which is a through road with plenty of room to pile snow wasn’t touched till day three. Technically after the state/county roads, my street would be considered secondary and not tertiary. We should have had at least one pass by day two to allow us egress. The big problem which still needs to be addressed are cars parked on the street. Ticket them… No excuses! In my neighborhood Breton Woods 95 percent or better can park their vehicles off street on their property. Why they park in the street is beyond me. I would be afraid of damage. For those slim few who don’t have off street access, there are other alternatives: Neighbors, friends, property owner’s assoc. parking lot and local businesses. People here are lazy or spoiled. When I lived in another city, I had to park my vehicle blocks away or I would have been ticketed and/or towed.


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