BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Tropical Storm Isaias ripped through Berkeley Heights on Tuesday with heavy rains and 35-45 mph winds with gusts to 60 mph -- resulting in downed trees and widespread power outages.
An Emerson Lane family is very thankful after a 200-year-old Poplar tree fell on their property, nearly missing their house by five feet. Not only did the tree miss their house, it also missed all power lines. The St. Clair family never lost power during or after the storm. "We almost always lose our power, but for some reason we did not lose power," said Steve St. Clair. "It's a miracle the tree dodged all the power lines and the house."
This 200-year-old tree had survived the 2011 Halloween Nor'easter and subsequently survived Superstorm Sandy in 2012. -- The property lost four or five trees during the 2011 ice storm, said St. Clair. Since that storm, he had taken an active approach of taking down trees. But with this Poplar, he admittedly lulled into complacency having survived previous storms.
As the 200-year-old tree came down, it took down several other trees, and its deep roots were entangled with the gas line. "It ripped up the gas line, so we immediately started smelling natural gas," said St. Clair. He swiftly called PSE&G without getting through. A contractor driving through the neighborhood apparently got through and within 15 minutes a PSE&G crew took care of the gas line. "They told me they had a hell of a time getting here because there were so many trees down, they had to navigate around all these fallen trees from Chatham to get over here."
St. Clair said with tree services inundated with calls, it may take a while to get through for removal. Meanwhile, this 200-year-old Poplar sits five feet tall covering most of their side property.
Although it's a nuisance, this family is thankful for the miracle that Tropical Storm Isaias' wrath missed their house and no one was hurt.
Please be aware that although the storm has moved out of the region, dangerous situations are still present. Tree limbs that broke loose and are hung up on lines and other limbs will continue to fall over the next few days. Be mindful of where you are walking and where children are playing. Stay away from damaged trees and low-hanging wires and as always, call JCP&L immediately to report downed wires or unsafe conditions at 1-888-544-4877.
Related article: Berkeley Heights Plans for Post Storm Branch Pick-up