To the Editor:
Earlier this month the state of New Jersey was hit by the massive winter storm Jonas with 24 hours of continuous snow, and at times, blizzard conditions. During the worst parts of the storm, the streets of Bayonne became impassable. Cars were stranded, and emergency vehicles struggled to drive through streets. To make matters worse, snow plows were a rare sight. Hours went by before we saw a snow plow or salter drive down Avenue A or our side street. At the end of the storm, we awoke to a beautiful, but crippling sight. Snow covered everything. Drifts were over five feet high. Cars and stairways were completely buried, and the streets were knee deep. All around town, people began the monumental task of clearing the snow from walkways, steps and cars.
During this entire event, I was wondering “Where is our Mayor?” Aside from a brief blurb in his “Bayonne At It’s Best” email dated January 22 (the day before the storm hit), there was no communication with the citizens of Bayonne regarding storm preparation, parking restrictions, checking on elderly neighbors, staying safe and off the roads during the storm, or storm cleanup. There was no warning that the city was going to ban parking all along Broadway during the storm. It wasn’t until I went to park that I saw the sign with the restrictions. What happened to the emergency phone voice message system that has been a standard in past years? The Board of Ed used to keep us informed about school closings. Why didn’t Mayor Davis use this system to send out messages to the citizens? Was he even in town during the storm?
The first communication we received from the City of Bayonne regarding the blizzard was almost a week later when we received a voice recorded message from a representative of the city updating us on the parking situation and the removal of snow from the main avenues. Then on January 29th (a full six days after the storm) the mayor released another “Bayonne At It’s Best” email with a brief message about how great a job the city did.
I agree with your email of January 29. The emergency services and public works personnel did an awesome job during the storm and afterward. And the citizens of Bayonne did their part to help. And I am thankful to have such hardworking, dedicated people working tirelessly to keep our city safe.
But Mr. Mayor, I do think you fell short of your responsibility as the Chief Executive Officer to communicate with the citizens. During a crisis, you cannot communicate too often. There are a lot of people who get nervous during severe weather conditions. Let us know you are there, and have a handle on the severity of the situation. Tell us to stay home. Tell us what to expect with the snow removal. I hope next time you communicate more with helpful instructions reminding people of positive actions to take. Please be more present, instructive, and supportive during times of crisis.