Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 35
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

Prudential Fox and Roach, Realtors

Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate

Henderson Sotheby's International Realty

N.T. Callaway Princeton Office

Stockton Real Estate, LLC

Weichert, Realtors

Advertise in Town Topics

Iris Interiors

Advertise in Town Topics

Weather Forecast

Cleanup From Irene Underway All Over Town

Anne Levin

The soaking rains and howling winds of Hurricane Irene left Princeton with a monumental cleanup task. From fallen trees and downed power lines to flooded basements and clogged roadways, the storm created a mess for residents and the police officers, rescue and fire personnel who protect them.

“We have power issues and I know about them first hand,” said Township Mayor Chad Goerner on Monday morning. Mr. Goerner was calling from his car; the power was out in his home on Bayard Lane. “The main culprit is a telephone pole that cracked in half in front of my house,” he said. “It’s been an interesting 48 hours.”

With downed cables on Ewing Street and a short from wires on the flooded Harrison Street bridge, Mr. Goerner had a lot on his mind. “There are some major challenges in the northern section,” he said. “We’ve also had a tremendous amount of flooding on some of the roadways. We did a robo-call to township residents asking them to stay home because we wanted to free up the roads for PSE&G to restore power. Our goal is to get things up and running as soon as possible.”

By Tuesday afternoon, power had been restored to approximately 95 percent of residences and businesses in and around Princeton. For those still without electricity or water, the Township made available the showers at Community Park Pool, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Township Hall and Borough Hall are open to those who need a place to plug in or recharge computers or phones.

The most popular spot in town on Monday for recharging, technologically and otherwise, was Princeton Public Library. The normal closing time of 9 p.m. was extended two hours in order to accommodate those who were without power at home. “We’re here, we’re open, and we’re a place where people can find power and find each other,” said Director Leslie Burger. “They’re all here, plugged in, trying to check their Internet, rebook airline reservations, all of that. They’re getting a bite to eat. They’re even happy to read one of our 400 magazines. Kids are on the floor, playing cards. It’s one big hurricane fest, the true definition of ‘the community’s living room.’ ”

By 9:30 p.m., 4,500 people had passed through the library’s doors. “On an average day, we have somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500,” said Communications Director Tim Quinn on Tuesday. “We haven’t had this many people since the day we opened in April, 2004. People have been very grateful, expressing their gratitude on line, Twitter, and in person. We maxed out the number of people on our Wifi system. Things ran a little slow, but people were patient and understanding.”

Parking spots on Princeton Borough streets are a precious commodity during lunchtime hours. But on Monday, it was a buyer’s market. On this crisp, sunny afternoon, the town was taking its time recovering from the heavy rains, fallen trees and downed power lines of Hurricane Irene.

Power was out on some streets; up and running on others. At D’Angelo’s Market on Spring Street, owner Joe D’Angelo sat forlornly at a round table that propped open a door into the dark store. “The power goes off here from time to time, but I’ve never seen it at this magnitude,” he said. “I’ve got lots of stuff in there, just spoiling.”

Next door at Cool Vines, the lights were off but the door and double-hung windows were wide open. A tiny lamp on the counter was the only source of indoor light. “We don’t have power, but we’re open,” said owner Beth Censits. “We figured, why not? I sold a six-pack of Heineken and a bottle of wine this morning. Our other store in Westfield has no power, either.”

Power was restored on Spring Street by Tuesday morning.

Around the corner on Witherspoon Street, Small World Coffee was doing a brisk business. “We’ve got lots of customers, but not a lot of product,” said owner Jessica Durie. “Our bakeries can’t get to us because of the traffic. I hope we can hold out.”

At Lindt Chocolates on Palmer Square, manager Daniel Del Pino was giving customers who had no power a 15 percent discount on purchases. “I feel like it gives people a nice pick-me-up,” he said. “It’s just a nice thing to do.”

On Nassau Street, some stores were open by noontime; others were not. Landau and Forest Jewelers were closed, but Labyrinth Books and Starbucks were open. Hamilton Jewelers opened at noon. J Crew was closed, its windows sporting giant X’s made of masking tape.

Power at McCaffrey’s supermarket in Princeton Shopping Center went out at 2 a.m. on Sunday, resulting in the loss of the store’s entire frozen food line. “We had a generator ordered, and it is going to be put in,” said manager Steve Carney. “We were just waiting for variances.”

On Tuesday morning, Mr. Carney was anticipating the arrival of trucks bringing in food to restock the shelves, and was hoping to be open for business by Wednesday morning. “We have to completely restock,” he said. “We pulled as much as we could Sunday night, got it out of the building to our commissary. Two of our vendors lent us their refrigerator trucks. We’re trying to replenish all of our perishable departments right now. Everything is coming in fresh.”

Extra crews came in yesterday to help out. “I’ve been here 20 years and this is about the worst I’ve seen,” Mr. Carney said. “Our phones have not stopped and cars have not stopped coming. We gave out ice for nothing yesterday to people who needed it. Most of our customers are very understanding and very loyal. Believe me, they know we didn’t want this to happen.”

McCaffrey’s announced it would re-open for business Wednesday at 8 a.m.

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