Hurricane Irene Causes Flooding, Power Outages in West Orange
Firefighters helping residents pump water out of basements, 15 homes damaged by trees
Many homes were left flooded and without power as Hurricane Irene ripped through the Garden State. The Category 1 hurricane has since been downgraded to a tropical storm but left its mark on the residents in West Orange.
"We're hanging in there, we did OK overall," said Mayor Robert Parisi. He said the township was mainly struggling with power outages, flooded homes and few structural damages caused by falling trees. As of yet, no serious injuries have been reported, he said.
"A lot of us were fearing worse but it's still pretty bad. We thought it would linger a little bit longer but it got out quicker than we thought. The fact that it got out of here quickly gives us a chance to go back to normal," said Parisi.
Jessica Glicker, public information officer for the township, said at least 15 homes were damaged from fallen trees but that officials are still assessing the total damage.
Businesses along Main Street were mostly shuttered down early Sunday afternoon with some planning on opening shop later in the day.
Fallen branches littered Main Street and water surged from manholes, as cars dodged past Sunday afternoon. Traffic lights went out on several Main Street intersections, including on Franklin, Washington St. and Park Avenue.
So far, emergency personnel have responded to 120 calls — anywhere from pumping out water, electrical problems and sick calls, Glicker said.
Meanwhile, other residents worked tirelessly to drain the water that had seeped into their home. Chip Ganny was sloshing buckets of water out of his basement and on to the streets Sunday. He said about three inches of water poured into his basement after the storm.
Firefighters in the area were helping another resident empty his basement of a couple feet of water. They said the calls from residents were "nonstop" all day.
As of 9 am.m Monday PSEG reported 501 - 2,000 homes were without power. Officials with the township said multiple primary power lines were down across town causing sporadic power outages including to senior citizen home on Gaston Street.
The utility issued a statement at 7:30 p.m. Sunday saying that the number of outages continues to climb as flooding impacts the region. PSEG reports that it has 6,000 employees "supporting the restoration efforts" including 840 PSEG and out-of-state linemen, an additional 50 crews from Ohio, and 540 tree contractors.
"While the majority of customers will be restored within 48 hours, customers should be prepared for potentially lengthy outages of up to seven days. Those outages due to flooding will take the longest to restore," PSEG said in a statement.
Sections of Pleasant Valley Way, Northfield Avenue and Mt. Pleasant Avenue and Main Street intersection were closed due to flooding. Eagle Rock Avenue between Pleasant Valley Way and Laurel was also flooded. Some county roads will reopen today as emergency personnel continues working in the streets.
West Orange High School remains open for residents until at least 10 p.m. Roosevelt Middle School has now closed as a shelter. About 10 families sought refuge in the shelters, Glicker said.
West Orange continues under a limited state of emergency. Parisi asks residents to remain indoors if possible for their safety and to allow the crews to clear the roads. "We ask that people sit tight."