Lambertville, N.J., held its city council meeting on Sept. 9, in the aftermath of Tropical Depression Ida, the remains of a hurricane that struck Lousiana and move northeast., dumping rain along the way. After a closed voting session, the meeting was opened to the public via Zoom.
Both Mayor Julia Fahl and the council members lauded the “incredible volunteer effort” by the residents of Lambertville, after the city was hit by one of the worst flash floods in its history.
Council President Julia Taylor said, “the response has been overwhelming” and Councilman Wardell Sanders confirmed “the extraordinary sacrifice we saw.” Hundreds of volunteers have helped with cleanup and providing food and supplies.
The council acknowledged among countless others, Lotsa Helping Hands, a community-based organization, the West Amwell PTO and the Lambertville PTA. Lowe’s donated cleaning supplies and Chive Café provided food to the cleanup crews.
The City of Lambertville, the council announced, is still in the early stages of assessing the full scope of damage to homes, public buildings, parks and infrastructure and the cleanup has just begun. The debris removal plan has been implemented. Disaster debris removal trucks have been working throughout the city and will continue to engage in the long process. Water Main Cleaning Company has been working through the town to clean and inspect the sewer lines.
Mayor Fahl contacted the offices of Gov. Phil Murphy, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and Congressman Tom Malinowksi, who were able to tour the city with their respective delegations. This was the first step in receiving state and federal disaster aid.
Lambertville has received a major disaster declaration through FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration). The mayor and council are working with FEMA to raise the reimbursement level for damages from 75% to 100%, which would apply to the City of Lambertville as well as the residents.
A FEMA site has been set up at the Union Fire Station with caseworkers available to handle the residents’ needs. They were scheduled to be there until Sept. 12, but the council was working to see if that date could be extended. At present, there have been 400 damage reports.
In addition to FEMA, there will be representatives from the State of New Jersey to help with loss of documents such as licenses and Social Security cards and help with filing unemployment and insurance claims. The Red Cross set up an emergency shelter at South Hunterdon Regional High School. The Lambertville Free Public Library was also set up as a donation site.
The mayor and council voted to approve the use of the Homestead Farm for social service agency Fisherman’s Mark. Fisherman’s Mark has been distributing food and supplies to the community for over 40 years and their building sustained major damage in the flood. The property was also discussed as a possible housing site in the future.
Residents expressed concerns over the housing needs of the 44 displaced families from the Village Apartments which are uninhabitable. Anyone with housing needs was directed to call the City Hall office at 609-697-0110 x12.
Mayor Fahl agreed to post the CDC guidelines for the safe use of cleaning supplies upon a recommendation from a resident. Also, correct mold remediation was a major concern as many residents are tackling water cleanup themselves.