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Upper Salford Reflects on Violent Storm
Written by Abigail Clifford, Correspondent

            At their regular Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, June 11, Upper Salford supervisors and residents took time to reflect on the storm that wreaked havoc two weeks prior on Wednesday, May 29.

            The storm that came through Upper Salford left many residents without power, some even blocked off from leaving their homes due to fallen trees and powerlines.

             "The Board of Supervisors did declare a disaster for the township on May 29, 2019 by unanimous decision across the board," stated Chairman Kevin O'Donnell.

            O'Donnell explained that by declaring disaster for the township, this action allowed the supervisors to administer faster decisions to help aid the residents during and after the violent storm.

            "Without declaring a disaster for the township, we would have needed competitive bidding to hire for tree removal services," stated O'Donnell, "It also allows for the supervisors to take on some additional authority that normally would have been conducted at a township meeting that's been announced and advertised."

            Declaring a disaster for the township was never about receiving money either, said O'Donnell.

            He highlighted that the amount of damage seen in Upper Salford would not qualify for state or federal relief money. According to O'Donnell, he estimates that the current cost of damage is around $10,000 to the township.

            In other news related to the storm, supervisors agreed that the time of clean-up was slower than anticipated due to PECO.

            "I know one of the difficult things is that there were lots of offers of assistance through PennDOT and neighboring municipalities, but 90% or more of the fallen trees had powerlines down with them and none of those groups can mess with trees that have powerlines tangled in them," said Supervisor Richard Sacks. "So, that's what dragged out the process a little longer, we had to wait for PECO."

            During the public comment portion of the meeting, Upper Salford resident Joe O'Brien expressed both his gratitude for aid and disappointment in the lack of communication from the township concerning resources made available to those without power.

            Though posts were made public on social media, like Facebook, O'Donnell agreed that they need a more effective approach for communication with residents.  

            "We learned from this disaster that we need to be one hundred percent functional from a remote location," stated O'Donnell.

            The supervisors reassured that they are looking into other forms of communication for alerting residents in the case of any future disasters, such as an email process that can "email-blast" residents.

            "I have no excuses other than this is a devastating experience to the township, in the words of the guy who works for the National Weather Service in Philadelphia, he's never seen anything like this before in this region," said O'Donnell.

            O'Donnell publicly thanked Tom Burgmeier, Fire Chief at the Upper Salford Voluntary Fire Company, for his leadership and quick response to the disaster. 

"There were no injuries reported by residents or first responders; which is a miracle," stated O'Donnell.

            The Historical Society will be meeting on Monday, June 24 at the Upper Salford Fire House to discuss documentation of the historical storm for future generations. Residents are highly encouraged to come to talk about their experience and bring pictures of the storm's damage.





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