The heavy rains and winds that began Friday have wreaked havoc on Verona and the surrounding area with widespread power outages, felled trees, closed roads, and flooded streams, rivers and basements. This morning found many Veronans grappling with major headaches as they tried to get to work and school. The good news: According to Police Chief Doug Huber, despite the torrential rains, up to 70 MPH winds and nearly 30 trees that came down over the weekend in Verona, there wasn’t a single person reported injured.
The power outages started Saturday night. Residents on the eastern edge of Verona saw pulsing lights in the sky, the result of a Ridge Road transformer knocked out by the storm. Many if not all of the stores in the Pilgrim Plaza Shopping Center have been without power since then. Kings remains open on generator power, but lost all of its perishables and is not selling any dairy, meat or deli products.
Residents of the top half of Linden and Woodland avenues have been without power since Saturday at 6 p.m. and they are not likely to get it back any time soon. A spokeswoman from PSE&G says some customers may be restored on Wednesday, with the remainder on Thursday morning. The utility does not have a total for how many Verona households are without power now, but says the storm blacked out some 9,300 customers in PSE&G’s Metropolitan Division, which includes Verona.
This morning, many more residents experienced brief outages at 3 a.m. and again just after 7 a.m. En route to school, many of the towns traffic lights were out and police were taking their place on Linden and Bloomfield avenues. The Forest Avenue elementary school and H.B. Whitehorne middle school were without power from 6:50 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. and a 10:00 opening was called for those schools only. Because of the lack of power for the traffic light at Pompton and Linden, Linden Avenue between Pompton and Elmwood Road will be closed until power is restored, except between 7 and 9 am each morning and 4:30 and 6:30 pm each evening, when police officers will be directing traffic there.
Outside Verona, Governor Chris Christie has declared a state of emergency and the National Weather Service has issued flood warnings for many New Jersey rivers. Route 46 West was closed in many places this morning due to flooding from the Passaic River; diverted traffic didn’t fare much better on routes 280 and 80 where blocked exits, backups and accidents caused huge delays. The South Mountain reservation has been closed to traffic due to felled trees since Friday. Some 20 minute trips took hours; other commuters ended up back home after realizing that getting home at rush hour would prove equally time-consuming. Sections of Montclair and Glen Ridge have also been without power since Friday; click here for Baristanet’s storm coverage and to see how one Glen Ridge neighbor with electricity literally “hooked up” another without.
According to the weather service, Passaic River waters are at 11.4 feet; flood stage is 7 feet. And the waters are not yet at their peak; the service says that they should continue rising until Tuesday, when they are expected to hit 12.9 feet before abating. Before heading out in your car, check 1010 WINS for road closings, and allow plenty of time.
Woodland Avenue resident Lana Nguyen was not affected by this morning’s one-hour power outtage–but only because she and her family have been without power since Saturday at 6 p.m. She’s already thrown out the food in her refrigerator; she’s hoping what she has in the freezer will last until the power comes back on. But that may be in vain. PSE&G repair crews have told the families at the eastern end of Linden and Woodland avenues that they may not have power restored until late Tuesday afternoon.
It’s already too late for Lisa Freedman. Her family returned home from Vermont yesterday to 10 inches of water in the basement because the outage cut power to their sump pump and they weren’t there to turn on the generator. “I’ve thrown out everything in the basement,” she says with a shrug.