By David Kluesner
Late August and early September usually epitomize the lazy days of doing nothing or heading to the beach, barbecues and family get-togethers over Labor Day. Not this summer. Not for North Jersey after Hurricane Irene hit and then a sucker punch landed in the form of Tropical Storm Lee. Mother Nature attacked furiously on August 28, sending the waters of the Ramapo, Passaic and Pequannock Rivers over their banks to record levels. All the networks and CNN carried as their top story a flooded home ablaze in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, where firefighters had to swim to the house to respond.
Pompton Lakes is a community I know so well through my work on the DuPont Pompton Lakes Works site cleanup. I was part of an EPA team deployed to help with the U.S. government’s response and recovery efforts. FEMA’s mission assignment for us was to collect household hazardous waste, retrieve displaced drums and containers of hazardous chemicals, and to help residents remove oils and chemicals from their flooded basements. Paterson, Lake Hiawatha, Wayne, Pompton Lakes and so many other North Jersey communities calmly, with strength and resolve, rose to the challenge to respond, unite, once again, to rebuild and move on. Continue reading