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(Photo by Rebecca Blackwell ©2003 Town Topics)

TREE MEETS ROOF: A tree toppled by Thursday night's high winds lies across the roof of a home on State Road Friday morning. Tropical storm Isabel, which was downgraded from a hurricane before it reached New Jersey, brought gusting winds and rain to the area.
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Hurricane Closes Down Roads and Schools; Causes Power Outages

Candace Braun

Hurricane Isabel appeared to roar like a lion but go out like a lamb. The storm blew through Princeton on Thursday, leaving in its wake sunny skies and warm weather on Friday.

The storm caused trees and branches to fall, along with downed wires. Mercer Street was closed from midnight to 8 a.m. on Friday. Other trees had fallen throughout the area, but not on main roads.

"Several trees went down, but nothing that affected traffic," said Capt. Anthony Federico of Borough Police. "There was just a lot of street clean up."

The Township, however, had many more tree casualties, resulting in damage to homes and electrical wires. "There were power outages all over the area," said Capt. Peter Savalli of Township Police. Traffic lights were out much of Thursday night and into Friday morning, including the intersections of Washington and Faculty roads, River Road and Route 27, and Stuart and The Great roads.

Rosedale road was closed from 10:30 p.m. Thursday to 9:30 a.m. Friday because of fallen trees and wires, and a utility pole that fell and blocked the road. Van Dyke Road was also closed Thursday night from 10:30 p.m. to 10:30 a.m. because of fallen debris.

(Photo by Rebecca Blackwell ©2003 Town Topics)

REPAIRING THE DAMAGE: PSE&G lineman Bud Russo works to restore power to residents of Hun and Russell roads midday Friday. A tree, uprooted by tropical storm Isabel's high winds, pulled down telephone and electricity wires and severed the upper portion of a telephone pole. Downed trees led to several power outages and road closures in Princeton.
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"There were a lot of reports of tree limbs and wires down all over the place," said Capt. Savalli. "It took [workers] a while to get the roads open again."

Homes were also damaged by the high winds, including a house on State Road, where a tree fell onto the roof. A house on Russell Road also felt the effects of the storm when live power lines fell onto the porch. No one was hurt, and the lines were removed Friday morning.

Superintendent of Schools Claire Sheff Kohn ordered all schools in the Princeton Regional School District closed on Friday because of the power outages and fallen trees and power lines.

"I had to make a decision between 4 and 5 a.m.," said Dr. Kohn. At that time, she added, four Princeton roads were closed and it was not clear when they would reopen.

She was also concerned that there might have been power outages at the schools and there might be electricity problems.

School activities in the district were also terminated at 4 p.m. on Thursday in anticipation of the storm. All night activities were cancelled, including a field hockey game.

The superintendent was not, however, the only one worrying about the potential hazards caused by the storm. At 4 p.m. on Thursday, New Jersey Gov. McGreevey declared a state of emergency. The state of emergency was put in place as a precaution, and to ready emergency rescue and relief squads.

According to a spokesperson from PSE&G, approximately 53,000 Central New Jersey customers were without power after the storm. Altogether 250,000 customers in New Jersey lost power over the weekend. Most customers had power restored within 19 hours, but some had to wait as long as 48 hours to get electricity back.

According to David Robinson, the New Jersey State Climatologist, most of Central New Jersey received only a half inch to an inch of rain.

"These storms that go to the west of us have a lot of bluster, but limited rainfall," said Mr. Robinson. "I would have been surprised to see a lot of rain."

Mr. Robinson said that his staff reported wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph in the region. In more southern parts of New Jersey, winds reached between 50 and 60 mph. "It was blustery, tropical storm-like conditions with a limited amount of rainfall."

Ken Hitchner, spokesman for New Jersey Transit, said the storm did not cause problems for trains.

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