RANDOLPH, NJ- Mother Nature welcomed New Jersey to Winter 2018-19 with a sucker punch right to the nose, leaving roadways in complete and utter chaos on Thursday Nov. 15. The initial forecast of 1-3 inches of snow followed by rain that would wash it away (later changed to a 3-5 inch forecast) , turned into a rapid accumulation of over 7 inches in Randolph and close to 10 in other areas, followed by sleet and continued cold temperatures.
Social Media blew up all afternoon and well into the night as residents documented their struggles to get home, some sitting without moving for 2-3 hours at a time and enduring commutes as long as 7 hours. Through all the complaining and photo posting of their traffic nightmares, arose the good in human nature as residents tried to help each other in any way possible. Updates were posted on road conditions, with warnings of areas to avoid as well as comments about roads that were easy to travel.
Randolph Township Police Department Lieutenant Chris Giulliani reported, “There were no major accidents, but the many disabled cars on Route 10 and Sussex Turnpike were the biggest issue.” Stuck vehicles on Sussex, and a skidded out bus on Route 10 triggered the massive backups in those areas.
While both roads are major hubs throughout Randolph, Sussex is a County Road and Route 10 is a State road, so all efforts to plow and treat them are not the responsibility of Randolph Township.
Many people abandoned their vehicles and walked to locations where they could be picked up, while others called in favors and stayed with friends either in Randolph or in surrounding towns. The LA Fitness parking lot was a haven for many who left vehicles there overnight.
Around 8 pm, a knight in shining armor arose from the mayhem when Randolph Resident Joe Rogers posted on Facebook he was happy to go out and pick up stranded drivers in his 4x4 vehicle. A few requests quickly came through and Rogers came to their rescue.
Rogers, who owns Believe Solutions, a Home Improvement and HVAC company that stands on Christian Principles of Integrity and Stewardship, posted on Facebook around 10 PM the following message:
“Five trips no incident... six including me being home now. Who would have thought that post would have fruited such an amazing opportunity to help others. All the Glory to God, cheers everyone.” Hundreds commented praising and thanking Rogers for his offers to help.
Residents were fully engaged on social media, whether sitting in their cars or home on their couches. One thread spurred conversations about All Wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicles and the benefits of snow tires, while another resident on his way home posted a photo of his arrival at Newark Airport at midnight showing stuck passengers sprawled all over the building.
"Yesterday I was in constant contact with Township Manager Steve Mountain, DPW Director Tom Sweeny, and Deputy Mayor Jim Loveys before and during the storm," said Randolph Mayor Mark Forstenhausler. "Randolph Township was prepared to deal with the snow and our road department did a great job. I was in the same traffic on the state highways with many others trying to get home."
Forstenhausler continued, “I think the big issue last night was during rush hour the highways were packed, and it looked like the volume of cars on the highway prevented plow trucks from getting through while stuck and abandoned cars compounded the problems."
Randolph Township announced late afternoon yesterday that crews were indeed out and working on the roads, plowing and treating into the night, while also advising all to stay off and stay indoors.