New Jerseyans soaked by Irene
GLENN TOWNES Special to the AmNews | 9/21/2011, 3:54 p.m.
It's been almost a week since Hurricane Irene pummeled New York and New Jersey, yet thousands of residents of the Garden State continue to dig out from the remnants of the powerful winds and pounding rains precipitated by the fierce and unrelenting storm.
As of Tuesday evening, dozens of rivers, creeks and tributaries throughout New Jersey continued to overflow their banks and soak countless communities and neighborhoods. According to various reports, while some flooded rivers had gradually receded, many remained high.
Additionally, thousands of residents remained without power, with utilities estimating that some residences and businesses won't see complete power restored until early next week. As of Tuesday, Jersey Central Power & Light said more than 200,000 homes and businesses remained in the dark, while Public Service Electric & Gas said about 70,000 residences and businesses were without power.
With hundreds of downed power lines and flooded streets, work crews have been slowed in restoring power, according to various spokespeople for the utility companies. "Flooding continues to be the biggest challenge and obstacle for our crews," said PSE&G spokeswoman Karen Johnson. The Newark-based utility company is the largest provider of electric power in New Jersey. Johnson added that crews have been working on maintaining and restoring power since Irene hit the state on late Saturday night and early Sunday morning.
Some of the most flood-ravaged communities in New Jersey include Bergen, Middlesex, Somerset and Union counties. Several towns remain evacuated and closed to the public due to floodwaters. The city of Fairfield, surrounded by the Passaic River, was completely shut down by state officials. Virtually all roads in and out of the city were impassable. Additionally, the city of Denville in southern New Jersey remained without power, and countless bridges and streets remain closed due to floodwaters.
On Monday, Gov. Chris Christie toured the hardest hit regions of the state, including the town of Manville.
Christie was instrumental in having an electric generator delivered to a Veterans of Foreign Wars homeless shelter in Manville. The state-designated relocation facility was attempting to accommodate dozens of displaced families without having a full capacity electric generator. "Every once in a while, the government can get something right," Christie quipped at one of several hastily arranged news conferences before and after Irene hit. "Thanks to efforts from the National Guard, a new generator was delivered to the shelter today."
In Newark, Mayor Cory Booker said the state's largest city is still reeling from the effects of Irene, and pockets of the Brick City are still without power. "We are monitoring five small areas with power outages in the West Ward, two in the North Ward and one in the South Ward," he said, adding that as of Monday, there were about 100 locations across the city with downed trees, including several with live power lines.
Finally, as of late Tuesday, flood warnings remained in place throughout the state, with weather forecasters predicting a mostly mild week that will allow floodwaters to recede and return to normal levels.