Branches from the recent derecho storm were stacked along East Landis Avenue in Vineland last week. An organization of faith-based groups is volunteering to help residents remove debris.

Michael Ein

Vineland City Council voted 3-0 on Tuesday to approve $2 million worth of emergency spending done by the municipally-owned electric company after the June 30 storm.

The Vineland Municipal Electric Utility, or VMEU, spent the money on everything from buying new utility poles to paying for lodging for work crews who came from as far as Texas to help restore power.

The city estimates it spent at least $5 million on storm cleanup and damage repair. City Business Administrator Denise Monaco said local officials are still waiting for emergency spending numbers from the Department of Public Works. City Council will vote on those expenditures during a future meeting, she said.

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Vineland officials said the municipality suffered about $100 million in private and public property damage. Cumberland County officials estimate that at least 3,000 homes in the city suffered damage.

About 21,000 of almost 25,000 customers lost power in about 30 minutes, VMEU officials said. Power was finally restored to all VMEU customers late last week.

Vineland Municipal Utilities Director Joseph Isabella told City Council that power was restored to about 17,500 customers two days after the storm, and 80 percent of customers had electric by the end of the third day.

“Then it became a lot tougher,” he said, attributing the difficult to getting around all the damage and debris.

Vineland Public Works Superintendent Mark Gugliemi said clean-up is complete in about half the city. He said it should take another three weeks to finish clean up operations.

The city is also asking the state Department of Environmental Protection for permission to establish about 10 temporary debris management areas where debris can be deposited and stored for a while.

The storm pummeled extensive areas of South Jersey, especially Atlantic, Cumberland and Salem counties. Officials in those three counties all issued emergency declarations after the storm.

Acting Gov. Kim Guadagno last week asked the federal government for disaster aid. Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency have already toured the region.

Clean up continues in the region from the storm.

Members of faith-based organizations will spend the next five weekends helping Cumberland County’s senior and handicapped residents clean up from the June 30 storm.

About 70 volunteers from Mormon Helping Hands and the United Methodist Church will help remove yard debris, county officials said.

The organizations are members of the New Jersey Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, which partners with agencies such as the state Office of Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help disaster survivors.

People seeking assistance from the volunteers, who have materials such as chain saws and work gloves, can call 211. That government telephone number links callers with health and human services information. Callers must answer a few questions to determine if they are eligible for help from the volunteers.

Volunteers will break up into teams of seven and proceed to locations where they are needed, said group President Cathy McCann.

“These volunteers are truly just good, honorable people who want to help the handicapped, disabled and the elderly clean up their yards,” Cumberland County Freeholder Director Carl Kirstein said.

Residents and local and county governments continue to clean up and repair damage from the storm that sent high winds blowing through South Jersey. The storm caused an estimated $100 million in public and private property damage in Vineland alone.

Cumberland County Department of Public Works continues to pickup and remove debris for residents who live on county roads. The debris must be piled at curbside for pickup.

Vineland officials want resident to continue notifying them of branches and tree limbs still hanging over roadways or resting on power lines. Vineland residents can call 856-794-4250.

Officials in Millville said today that the municipality’s compost facility on Cedarville Road will have extended hours through Saturday for trees, tree limbs and brush. No tree stumps will be accepted. Residents must haul the material to, and unload it at, the compost facility.

The facility will be open from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. today, Thursday and Friday, and from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. People wanting more information can call 856-825-7000, extensions 7615 or 7388.

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