Hurricane Irene Left Borough Wet and Powerless

91f9b0b3ce764b12f266_da740aa9f57082163a88_npbrook.jpg
This small brook behind Salt Brook School was nearly dry this week. But a year ago it was filled to overflowing afer Hurricane Irene dumped 17 inches of rain on New Providence. Credits: Michael Daigle
092270a7ee59a81c1cb8_6da587913d4b41fb35ef_npbrook2.jpg
Borough employees earlier this year removed 12 trees from this section of the same brook. Water will be able to flow more freely now. This section of the  brook is at Division Avenue and passes under the bridge that was rebuilt by Union County in 2009. Credits: Michael Daigle
91f9b0b3ce764b12f266_da740aa9f57082163a88_npbrook.jpg

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ  - Ray Cooney knew last August there was trouble as soon as the lights went out at the Elizabeth Barabash Manor senior center.

The center is home to 26 elderly residents and when Hurricane Irene knocked out the power to the building, Cooney said, “They basically were incarcerated in their own rooms.”

The trials of the residents at the borough’s senior center were among the stories that happened as the hurricane dumped 17.73 inches of rain on New Providence starting on Aug. 27.

Sign Up for E-News

Thousands of residents were without power for days as the hurricane-force winds took down trees and power lines across the region. Jersey Central Power & Light said that 58,000 Union County homes lost power during the storm. More than 313,000 residents in the JCP&L service area went without power for several days.

In the borough, the Passaic River overflowed, filling streets and yards with water, and the several smaller brooks that flow through New Providence added to the watery mess.

The New Providence library spent $23,000 to make repairs after the hurricane.

Cooney said the main concern at the senior center the potential for medical emergencies, the inability of the residents who lives on the upper floors to get out if necessary, and the general inability to get around in the dark.

“The elevators were out,” Cooney said. “Residents on floors two and three were basically trapped."

Fortunately, everyone came through the storm in good shape, he said. A few residents had some minor respiratory issues in the heat.

To remedy that situation, the borough agreed to assist the center with the purchase and installation of a generator.

Cooney said it will give the center the ability to keep the elevators working and  enough power that each apartment will have minimal lighting.

“It also gives us the ability to house others in town who need shelter,” he said. “We can use our hallways and the community room, if necessary.”

Borough Administrator Douglas Marvin said installing the generator at the senior center makes sense, as did the  new generator at the borough municipal complex. The hurricane, and the Halloween snowstorm, triggered a series of improvements at the library, communications center, and senior center that added reliability to the power supply and communications ability.

The changes, Marvin said, “added quality.”

Communications during the storm were vital, Marvin said, and the borough’s emergency departments worked hard to maintain the systems even as the power failed. Informing  residents of the situations during such an emergency is also vital.

He said the borough has developed a Code Red alert system that keeps residents informed when the power is out and they can not access the borough’s website.

Further, Marvin said, the borough has developed as smart phone app which gives residents who download the application instant access to information.

Cooney said he was told at meetings with Union County officials who were assisting him with an application for a Community Development Block Grant, that a new natural-gas powered generator would cost approximately $68,000.

Cooney originally came to the Borough Council earlier this year seeking $25,000 in matching funds to support  the transfer of the old municipal complex generator to the senior center. That cost would  have been $135,000, he was told by county officials.

Instead, Marvin said, the borough could use a portion of its affordable housing trust fund to assist the purchase, since the senior center was part of the borough’s affordable housing inventory.

Marvin said the small brook flooding was a constant concern. Even brief, hard downpours fill up the narrow channels and flood the streets, shopping areas and yards.

With Irene, those small brooks that wander through residential neighborhoods and shopping areas, filled quickly.

Marvin said recently public works supervisor Jimmy Johnson removed 12 trees from the brook that runs under Division Avenue to a spot behind Salt Brook School. The debris clogs the narrow brook and helps force the water out of the channel, he said.

“Two inches of rain over two days never overflows,” Marvin said. “But two inches in an hour does.”

To help the fire department with water rescues, the borough purchased a 25-horse power outboard motor to use on the department’s rescue boat, he said.

Marvin said discussion with JCP&L to address communication snafus and misinformation that was sent to residents are ongoing. After the storm last year, Mayor J. Brooke Hern said he had joined with several Union County mayors to discuss the issues with the power company.

This spring, the council tallied up some of the costs of the storms.

Councilman James Cucco reported  the borough hauled away 119 tons of bulk waste at a cost of $11,197,108 tons of households goods for $7,368, and other trash at a cost of $9,873. The total cost of disposal was $28,438.

At the time Marvin told the council that the borough received through insurance $29,340 to cover the replacement of two damaged traffic signals, and another $23,850 to partially cover the cost of repairs at the library.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Providence

Save the Date for Back to School Enrollment Night at My Gym New Providence

July 16, 2018

Join us at our Back to School Enrollment Night and discover why kids from infants to 10 years old love My Gym!  Parents can explore our immaculate state-of-the-art facility, meet our amazing staff,  learn about our award winning programs, and check out our fantastic Birthday Party packages. 

We are celebrating 35 years of My Gym, so it's the perfect ...

17 Years Running and the Pizza is still Hot!! The Downtown Westfield 5K & Pizza Extravaganza is July 25, 2018

The 17th Annual Downtown Westfield 5K & Pizza Extravaganza, now more often referred to as the ‘Pizza Run’ will be here in no time! Don’t forget to sign up for a night of running, pizza, prizes, and entertainment! The event will be held on July 25, 2018 with a start time of 7 pm. Register online at PracticeHard.com before our Monday July 23, 2018, at 11:59 pm deadline will be ...

Union County’s Free Summer Arts Festival Continues July 18 at Echo Lake Park Featuring 5 Against 1

The Union County Summer Arts Festival concert series continues on Wednesday July 18, with the band 5 Against 1, a Pearl Jam  tribute band, taking the stage at Echo Lake Park in Mountainside.

The free series, presented by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders,is held at Echo Lake Park during July and moves to Oak Ridge Park in Clark during August.

5 Against 1, which ...

Severe Thunderstorm, Flash Flood Warnings in Effect for New Providence Tuesday Afternoon

July 3, 2018

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ — The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Union County until 2:30 p.m. and a flash flood warning until 5 p.m.

“Torrential rainfall is occurring with this storm, and may lead to flash flooding,” the service warned. “Do not drive your vehicle through flooded roadways.”

Sign up for our free enews and get ...

Geoffrey the Giraffe Moves In To New Brunswick Children's Hospital

July 12, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Over a stretch of nearly 70 years, Geoffrey the Giraffe at Toys R Us stores was the symbol of happy times for generations of children, and now he may provide those same feelings for children coming to a hospital.

"From this day forward, Geoffrey stands tall in our lobby to encourage our smallest patients to smile when they enter our facilities," said John ...

Before & After: The Contrasting Color Kitchen Remodel

July 5, 2018

Before and After

Over the years we have designed and remodeled hundreds (if not, thousands) of kitchens.  Every client and kitchen are different, which makes for a very interesting job working as a kitchen designer! But every once in a while, a kitchen comes along that really makes you stop, think, and appreciate the beauty of transformation.  One of the most rewarding experiences is ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_7f6c107703df2d416aa6_barre_intesity

Tue, July 17, 8:00 AM

Providence Health & Fitness, New Providence

Barre Intensity

Carousel_image_3c7abbb40c05a3108a26_yoga_stretch

Tue, July 17, 9:15 AM

Providence Health and Fitness, New Providence

Essential Hatha Yoga

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_a4801a3d56342db1596a_pilates_reformer

Tue, July 17, 9:30 AM

Providence Health and Fitness, New Providence

Pilates Reformer

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_7f6c107703df2d416aa6_barre_intesity

Tue, July 17, 9:30 AM

Providence Health & Fitness, New Providence

Barre Intensity

Tue, July 17, 10:00 AM

Healing the Children, new providence

Summit Old Guard

Giving Back

Avoiding 10% Tax Penalty

Do you want access to money from your retirement accounts but aren't sure of the real costs involved?

Most retirement accounts have a set age requirement you must reach before making penalty-free income distributions, which is usually 59.5 but can sometimes be as early as age 50. If you decide to access your accounts earlier, you could face penalties ranging from 10%-25%, which is not ...

Beneficiary Forms - As Important as Your Will

As you plan for the future, don’t leave out one of the most overlooked must-do’s: naming the beneficiaries of your retirement assets. Updating your beneficiary forms ensures that the legacy you worked so hard to build will be distributed correctly. Don’t delay -- the designations on your beneficiary forms supersede those stated in your Will. 

Try answering the ...