TRR photo by David Hulse

Camp Simcha director Ben Brown is pictured receiving a proclamation of thanks for Brown’s efforts in spontaneously opening the Lumberland camp’s facilities to both residents and town officials during the week-long power outage that followed the storms in first week of March. Brown deferred credit to all the volunteers and emergency people involved and said he was humbled and honored by the opportunity to give back to the town. “It was great to see the community gathering (under those conditions at the camp), but I hope we never have to go through it again.”

Investigation of March storms continues

GLEN SPEY, NY — Town of Lumberland officials took time out on May 9 to thank the summer camp director who opened his doors and played host to powerless residents and those stranded and provided emergency internet access during the storms Quinn and Riley and their aftermath to allow fundamental town business to continue.

Camp Simcha Director of Operations Ben Brown was on hand to receive a proclamation of “appreciation and honor” recognizing his “service and dedication to the Town of Lumberland.” The document noted that planned warming stations in the town hall and administration building were inaccessible because of downed wires.

Brown, it proclaimed, knew of the impending storm and anticipated the need for sheltering a large group of people. He offered, without being asked before the storm hit, to open Camp Simcha as a warming station to anyone affected by the storms. Many Lumberland families were able to take advantage of a private room to sleep, a shower, a hot meal, Wi-Fi, or just a place to warm up for a while. Brown was proclaimed as the epitome of the “true meaning of sharing, compassion and dedication to his community” in opening camp doors for six days.

Un-noted in the proclamation, but recognized earlier, was the camp’s providing internet services allowing the town’s payroll to be paid on time.

Noted on the agenda of the same May 9 meeting was Supervisor Jenny Mellan’s May 4 letter of testimony to the New York State Department of Public Services on Orange and Rockland Utilities’  (O&R) shortcomings during the two early March storms, which paralyzed the area for a week.

She explained that “The Town of Lumberland was devastated by winter storm Quinn with 97 downed trees and wires, which caused 26 closed roads. We had a foot and a half of snow, yet because we are a more rural area, it went largely unnoticed and unaddressed…

“I have yet to understand how O&R could advise residents of the Town of Lumberland that power would be restored by Monday night 03/05/18 without anyone from O&R having been in town to assess the damage… In the end, the final customers didn’t come back online for almost SIX full DAYS after the initial restoration time that was posted… People trusted O&R to give them straight answers, so they could judge what they should be doing…

“O&R would have made out much better being genuine and advising it could take up to 7 to 10 days to restore power to the entire town. They may not have been happy, but they would have been able to create a realistic plan for themselves.

“This is incomprehensible and shameful. I am also concerned as to how or why the line crews that responded to help with our repairs, had to wait in their hotels until 8 when the O&R yard in Middletown opened... I am extremely upset by the poor response of Orange & Rockland, in all aspects of addressing the severe storm damage in the Town of Lumberland created by winter storms Quinn and Riley.”

Comments on the storm response will be received until May 22. Comments can be submitted electronically to DPS digitally at or via email to Reference matter #18-00618 in the email subject or search for the matter on their website.


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