Harrison Township committee meeting focuses on solutions to tornado damage

Policies approved on assistance for those most impacted by the storm.

Harrison Township held their first committee meeting of the month on Sept. 7, with all members in person and Deputy Mayor Don Heim joining via Zoom.

The meeting started with a moment of silence to honor troops overseas and was followed by  standard procedures. Members then addressed specialized policies created after Hurricane Ida and a resulting tornado ravaged Mullica Hill on Sept. 1. 

A main point of discussion was the proposal for a regionalized court system. Mayor Lou Manzo noted that the subject was briefly discussed during a mayor’s dinner a couple of months prior,  and the regional system would include Mantua as well as other surrounding towns. While that proposal has yet to be fully approved, the committee agreed to recognize and accept efforts at  breaking the court system into five districts or regions within the county.

The committee then discussed solutions for families in Mullica Hill impacted by storm damage,  including a temporary suspension of the prohibition on motor or mobile homes on residential properties. Although the use of a mobile home’s space could be helpful for families whose dwellings were completely destroyed by the tornado, the committee was concerned about waste management and the appropriate steps that should be taken to dispose of it.

The committee brainstormed different solutions, including temporary portable toilets and  mapping commutes to RV parks in the area. The superintendent of Harrison Township’s wastewater management, Mike Gonserkevis, offered his own concerns and input.

“[Motor home] tanks are made for a long weekend, and a family living in a camper will produce a lot of waste,” he said. “The best answer for a homeowner is to connect to their own septic system and work off of that.”

The committee then approved the temporary mobile units, with Mayor Lou Manzo confirming the move would be in effect for 30 days, with a possible extension if needed. A similar proposal was also approved that will allow property owners to position storage units on their properties, with the same 30 day limitation.

Gloucester County homeowners and renters affected by Hurricane Ida may be eligible for help from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). Information on that is available on the township website. Manzo said an email blast regarding FEMA updates and guidance was sent to Mullica Hill residents.

The next township committee meeting will be held on Monday, Sept. 20, at 7 p.m.