Rather than fireworks and holiday cookouts on July 4, Haddonfield residents took cover from severe evening storms that caused fallen trees, flooding, road closures and power outages.
According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, rainfall measured about 3 inches between 6 and 8 p.m.
During the storm and in the aftermath, borough administrators sent live updates to residents through Facebook and the Haddonfield Happenings app. They included information on closed roads, how to report power outages and an estimate of when power would return.
The day after the 4th, the borough reported more than 150 calls to police over a 24-hour period, 110 of them to the Haddon Fire Company and 15 that resulted in water rescues for stranded drivers. Haddonfield got help from swift water rescue teams in Bellmawr and Pennsauken, and fire companies in Westmont and Haddon Heights.
“We had every officer come in to work,” recalled Police Chief Jason Cutler. “Every available officer came in.”
Mayor Colleen Bianco Bezich acknowledged the work and sacrifices of those who responded to the storms, including Director of Public Works Greg Ley, who drove his family back from vacation early to help with cleanup efforts. Volunteer firefighters and Fire Chief Lou Frontino also helped while their own homes were at risk.
“Chief Frontino and I are neighbors and our street was obliterated,” said the mayor. “It’s still being cleaned up today. He and our other firefighters were brave and courageous and they said, ‘We’re going to come in,’ because that’s what they volunteer to do.”
Bianco Bezich also recognized communications officer Joana McDonnell for working after hours to keep the town informed.
“Joana was incredible,” the mayor noted. “She was under pressure at all hours. We have never had a communications officer before, and she’s part time and coming off an injury, and the woman worked around the clock to make sure what the chief reported, what (Borough Administrator) Sharon Mccullough reported, what the Department of Public Works reported – was getting reported out.”
The work paid off: McDonnell reported emails from many residents praising the borough app and cited a surge in its downloads.
Three days after the storm, the borough got assistance from Camden County’s Department of Public Works and the Office of Emergency Management. Eleven neighboring municipalities – including Audubon, Barrington, Bellmawr, Collingswood, Lindenwold and Winslow – helped with fallen trees lining the streets.
“We couldn’t do it without our neighbors,” said the mayor.
For updates, visit the borough of Haddonfield’s Facebook page, follow it on Twitter or download the Haddonfield Happenings app.