West Pittston first responders and businesses honored for flood work

By Jimmy Fisher - jfisher@timesleader.com
West Pittston Borough Mayor Tom Blaskiewicz, right, honors Kathy Thomas, left, and Eric Thomas, owners of Thomas Landscaping, during the borough council meeting for helping clean borough streets free of charge after the flooding. - Jimmy Fisher | Sunday Dispatch
West Pittston Borough Mayor Tom Blaskiewicz, right, honors Common Health employees Austin Nocera, right, EMT; and Ron Redmond, paramedic, during the borough council meeting for their efforts during recent flooding. - Jimmy Fisher | Sunday Dispatch
Police officers honored during the West Pittston Borough Council meeting for their efforts during the borough flooding are, from left, John Urbanski, Ptlm.; Joseph Demark, Ptlm.; Mike Turner, Chief of Police; Dion Fernandes, Pittston City Ptlm. 1st Class. Absent at the time of the photo were Brandon Bradshaw, Ptlm.; Jessica Mancus Bartolatta, Ptlm.; Jamie Sheridan, Ptlm.; Robert Shupp, Ptlm.; Drew Mallvizzi, Ptlm. - Jimmy Fisher | Sunday Dispatch
Firefighters honored during the West Pittston Borough Council meeting for their efforts during the borough flooding are, from left, first row, Jonathan Eyerman, Nate Redmond, Lieutenant; Kevin Dushok. Second row, John Hood, Fire Chief; John Jadus, Captain; Tom Blaskiewicz, West Pittston Borough Mayor; John Vincavage, Asst. Fire Chief; Cory Sinkiewicz, Lieutenant; John Janczewski, Safety Officer; Vicki Hood. Absent from photo, Dustin Eyerman, Lieutenant; Ralph Dixon, William Wagner and JJ Hood. - - Jimmy Fisher | Sunday Dispatch

WEST PITTSTON — For the second time in under seven years, the Susquehanna River flooded the borough, thanks to an ice jam that caused the river to spill over its banks.

The bravery of the borough’s first responders and residents was highlighted at the council meeting Tuesday, with mayor Tom Blaskiewicz awarding 56 certificates to police officers, firefighters and EMTS.

“It’s so easy to say the word ‘first responder,’ but I wanted people in our community and in this region to know that these are husbands, brothers, sisters and, when they hear the call, they’re there,” Blaskiewicz said. “I learned a long time ago that you celebrate successes, and we dodged a big bullet. I wanted us to gather here at this first monthly meeting and thank these people for all of their hard work.”

Businesses honored included Luna’s Pizza and Antonio’s Pizza for donating food to residents and responders, as well as Kuharchik Construction for donating lighting to the flood area. Thomas Landscaping was also honored for offering to clean the streets after the flood free of charge.

The flood was the first natural disaster for Mike Turner, the borough’s Chief of Police, who said he relied on the experience he garnered from his superiors during the flood of 2011.

“The experience I obtained through the recent floods from my superior officer definitely came into play here,” he said. “I was thinking of what we did back then and I implemented it this time. So, that helped me out.”

Turner said officers did ground control, assisted in the evacuation process by going door-to-door to residences in the borough. He said he was also in consistent contact with the mayor on everything that was happening.

“The mayor and I worked hand-in-hand,” Turner said. “He helped me; I helped him and it was great. He had ideas; I had ideas and we were working together the entire time of the flood.”

John Hood, Fire Chief of the West Pittston Fire Department, said his crew went door-to-door, advising residents of the situation and handing out flyers about river levels and helping with evacuation.

He said the recent flood was harder to deal with than the flood of 2011 due to the unpredictability of the ice jam.

“You kind of knew what was going to happen when the water came up and what you had to do, but nobody knew what the ice was going to do,” Hood said. “If it was going to break, the water was going to go down; if the ice was going to come inland more towards the houses, it was unpredictable.”

Turner echoed Hood’s comments.

“Ice jams are unpredictable,” he said. “This was scary; it was unpredictable and we were monitoring it very, very closely every second of the day.”

West Pittston Borough Mayor Tom Blaskiewicz, right, honors Kathy Thomas, left, and Eric Thomas, owners of Thomas Landscaping, during the borough council meeting for helping clean borough streets free of charge after the flooding.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_West-Pittston-1.jpgWest Pittston Borough Mayor Tom Blaskiewicz, right, honors Kathy Thomas, left, and Eric Thomas, owners of Thomas Landscaping, during the borough council meeting for helping clean borough streets free of charge after the flooding. Jimmy Fisher | Sunday Dispatch

West Pittston Borough Mayor Tom Blaskiewicz, right, honors Common Health employees Austin Nocera, right, EMT; and Ron Redmond, paramedic, during the borough council meeting for their efforts during recent flooding.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_West-Pittston-2.jpgWest Pittston Borough Mayor Tom Blaskiewicz, right, honors Common Health employees Austin Nocera, right, EMT; and Ron Redmond, paramedic, during the borough council meeting for their efforts during recent flooding. Jimmy Fisher | Sunday Dispatch

Police officers honored during the West Pittston Borough Council meeting for their efforts during the borough flooding are, from left, John Urbanski, Ptlm.; Joseph Demark, Ptlm.; Mike Turner, Chief of Police; Dion Fernandes, Pittston City Ptlm. 1st Class. Absent at the time of the photo were Brandon Bradshaw, Ptlm.; Jessica Mancus Bartolatta, Ptlm.; Jamie Sheridan, Ptlm.; Robert Shupp, Ptlm.; Drew Mallvizzi, Ptlm.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_West-Pittston-3.jpgPolice officers honored during the West Pittston Borough Council meeting for their efforts during the borough flooding are, from left, John Urbanski, Ptlm.; Joseph Demark, Ptlm.; Mike Turner, Chief of Police; Dion Fernandes, Pittston City Ptlm. 1st Class. Absent at the time of the photo were Brandon Bradshaw, Ptlm.; Jessica Mancus Bartolatta, Ptlm.; Jamie Sheridan, Ptlm.; Robert Shupp, Ptlm.; Drew Mallvizzi, Ptlm. Jimmy Fisher | Sunday Dispatch

Firefighters honored during the West Pittston Borough Council meeting for their efforts during the borough flooding are, from left, first row, Jonathan Eyerman, Nate Redmond, Lieutenant; Kevin Dushok. Second row, John Hood, Fire Chief; John Jadus, Captain; Tom Blaskiewicz, West Pittston Borough Mayor; John Vincavage, Asst. Fire Chief; Cory Sinkiewicz, Lieutenant; John Janczewski, Safety Officer; Vicki Hood. Absent from photo, Dustin Eyerman, Lieutenant; Ralph Dixon, William Wagner and JJ Hood.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_West-Pittston-4.jpgFirefighters honored during the West Pittston Borough Council meeting for their efforts during the borough flooding are, from left, first row, Jonathan Eyerman, Nate Redmond, Lieutenant; Kevin Dushok. Second row, John Hood, Fire Chief; John Jadus, Captain; Tom Blaskiewicz, West Pittston Borough Mayor; John Vincavage, Asst. Fire Chief; Cory Sinkiewicz, Lieutenant; John Janczewski, Safety Officer; Vicki Hood. Absent from photo, Dustin Eyerman, Lieutenant; Ralph Dixon, William Wagner and JJ Hood. Jimmy Fisher | Sunday Dispatch

By Jimmy Fisher

jfisher@timesleader.com

Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher

Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher