April 30, 2014 at 9:15 AM
NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ -- The flash flood watch from the National Weather Service has become a flash flood warning until noon on Thursday, meaning that flooding is imminent in many parts of North Plainfield and Green Brook. The Office of Emergency Management in North Plainfield opened the Vermeule Community Center on Greenbrook Road and Clinton Avenue and the North Plainfield High School as temporary shelters for residents who have to leave their homes.
Parts of Route 22 Westbound in both communities are already unpassable, with North Drive in North Plainfield and Rock Avenue in Green Brook particularly problematic. The police in Green Brook have closed Route 22 at Rock Avenue, and people are being redirected to local roads in Scotch Plains.
"Most of the neighbors and are normally flooded areas have voluntary left for other shelter," said North Plainfield Police Chief William Parenti. "My best advice is when you see a baricaded road do not try to get past."
Other local roads including Jefferson Avenue in Green Brook are close to being closed to traffic.
The Stony Brook has already crested in Green Acres Park in North Plainfield, with trees and benches under water. The brook and the pond were separated by more than 60 feet at the fishing derby last Saturday, and are now as close as only a few yards in some locations.
The National Weather Service says that the worst of the rain is yet to come, with heavy downpours and thunderstorms possible throughout the night with as many as two additional inches of rainfall possible. The Flood Watch is for the majority of Northern New Jersey, and with streams and brooks already cresting in both communities the likelihood of flooding is high.
At 4:15 the Green Brook Police sent out a warning via their NIXLE system that flooding was likely on Route 22, Greenbrook Road, Jefferson Avenue and Washington Avenue. Jefferson Avenue currently has more than a foot of standing water.
Police say that no one should drive through standing water because you do not know how deep it is, if there are potholes, or if there are dangerous items under the water that could damage your car.
During Hurricane Floyd in 1999, Somerset Street and Greenbrook Road in North Plainfield had more than five feet of rushing water and Green Brook Township had severe damage to its public works, police, EMS-Fire and Borough Hall buildings. While the flooding is not expected to reach the level off Hurrican Floyd, it could be significant given the amount of recent rain and the large amount of precipitation in the winter.
North Plainfield residents can learn what is happening by listening to the Borough's Emergency Radio Station at 1630 AM, which will broadcast updates as long as they are needed. They can also sign up for the town's EventBridge service to receive e-mail and text alerts with important information about the borough.
Green Brook residents can sign up for the NIXLE service on the township web site to receive text and e-mail alerts.