Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 11
 
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

Prudential Fox and Roach, Realtors

Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate

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N.T. Callaway Princeton Office

Stockton Real Estate, LLC

Weichert, Realtors



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Iris Interiors


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Weather Forecast


After the Big Storm, Two Weeks of Work

Dilshanie Perera

Ellen Gilbert

Felling trees and flooding basements, inflicting power outages and road closures, Saturday’s storm caused almost everyone in central New Jersey some degree of inconvenience as a result of the heavy rain and driving winds.

The precipitation began on Friday night accompanied by strong winds with gusts up to 70 miles per hour. It continued on Sunday, and the results of the weekend deluge were still being felt on Monday, when Princeton Regional Schools were closed “due to power outages and road closures.” 

The road closures, reports Township Police Detective Sergeant Ernie Silagyi, include Quaker Road, Faculty Road at Washington Road; River Road; Stuart Road between Great Road and Cherry Hill; and Winant Road. Snowden Lane at Van Dyke is open, he said, but there were several downed trees and wires in the area.

In the Borough, Alexander Road was closed at University Place. There were no fatalities or injuries reported, although one motor vehicle accident did occur at 1 a.m. on Sunday, when a driver ran into a large tree that had fallen across Herrontown Road near Autumn Hill Road. The driver was reported to be okay, although his car sustained heavy damage. 

Borough Administrator Bob Bruschi lauded the Police Department, Public Works Department, and volunteer Fire Department for their tireless efforts and for “answering multiple hundreds of calls over a 24-hour period.”

“We have what we estimate to be over two weeks of work laying on the ground,” Mr. Bruschi said of the storm damage that needs to be rectified and felled trees that need to be removed. He reported that Harrison Street Park was significantly damaged mid-renovation, with a total of 11 trees down, but that the ground would have to dry out before work could be done on that site.

Another affected site is on Quarry Street, where a “large Borough Tree came down on top of a property,” Mr. Bruschi reported. “We have a crane coming in to surgically remove the tree from the house,” he added, noting that power would be restored to the street following the tree’s removal. Some other large trees have been cut up and moved off the road but are waiting to be cleared.

Blackouts struck many neighborhoods, lasting from a few hours to several days. With sump pumps stilled by the lack of electricity, flooded basements seemed to be the norm by midday Sunday.

In his storm damage report, Sergeant Silagyi noted that the Princeton Township Office of Emergency Management was activated on Saturday at 3 p.m. as a result of “numerous reports of wires and trees down from the storm. Additional Police Officers, Communication Officers, and two Mercer County Sheriff’s Officers were called in to assist with the high volume.”

Felled trees and downed power lines were a common sight, and traveling just a brief distance in the area had the potential to become an hours-long expedition, as motorists were turned away from one side street and main road after another while crews cleared debris and repaired wires. Drivers’ good will was further taxed as failed street lights required exercising good manners and intelligence in traversing many intersections. 

Sergeant Silagyi said that Township police responded to reports of “over 60 trees down, and over 35 road closures because of flooding and roads blocked by downed trees.” 

“Princeton Fire Department and Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad also responded to numerous calls,” said Sergeant Silagyi. “Princeton Fire Department is still in the process of pumping out flooded basements. There are still areas of power outages that may not be restored until Wednesday.”

Mr. Bruschi advised residents to bring brush out to the curb for pick up if it was a manageable size, though he cautioned that the Borough would “need a little leniency” in clearing the material given the total amount of felled vegetation.

Approximately “20 truckloads of tree debris” have been removed from various parts of the Borough, with Mr. Bruschi estimating that it will “probably be 100 truckloads when all is said and done.”

Amtrak suspended service between New York and Philadelphia on Saturday, and New Jersey Transit trains along the Northeast Corridor did the same as some 500 passengers spent five hours aboard an idle Trenton-bound train that stopped operating west of Rahway as a result of a power loss. N.J. Transit and Amtrak officials said stranded riders are eligible for refunds and should call customer service.

Inbound traffic had reached a standstill, with downed trees and power lines partially blocking Alexander and Washington Roads on Sunday morning. Cars were redirected to Route One and back into town through Harrison Street.

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