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Downpour Damages Avenue Businesses


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A blue tarp, installed after Monday's storm, can be rolled out in future storms until the renovation is done.

The last thing Steve Janett wants to see right now is more rain.  Monday night’s torrential downpour has already cost the owner of the buildings that house Prudential New Jersey Properties and other businesses $16,000 to clean up. He doesn’t yet know what the tab for replacing all the water-damaged drywall will be. But one thing is certain: It was money that he would have rather spent on the renovation of those buildings, a major facade improvement project that has been underway for the last two weeks.

Here’s one other thing that is certain: A lot of storm water accumulates on the low part of Bloomfield Avenue since it was renovated by Essex County in 2005-2006. “Every time it rains, I wonder if I’m going to get water in here,” says Anthony Lombardi of his Anthony Robert Salon at 514 Bloomfield Avenue. “It just comes right up over the curb.” The water came in Monday night, and though he and salon colorist and stylist Jeff Greenfield worked quickly to push it back out, his flooring–just two years old–is buckling in spots.

Monday night’s storm was fierce, dumping almost four-tenths of an inch of rain in about an hour. That doesn’t sound like much until you imagine a half-mile of rain water rushing down from east and west toward Verona’s main intersection. A Rocktec Music employee waiting at the east-bound bus stop shelter had to clamber onto the shelter’s bench seat to stay above the rapidly rising water. He watched the flooding quickly climb to just below the store’s windowsill, and credits a solid front door for keeping almost all the water out.

The architect's rendering of the new facade.

The water also rose quickly at Janett’s buildings where even a solid door might not have been enough. Workers had opened the sidewalk from 536 to 526 Bloomfield Avenue and dug a trench for a new foundation to support facades that will be made flush with the Prudential office. “The entire construction area filled up to a depth of more than four feet,” says Janett. From there, the water went into the basement under JT’s Barbershop, We The People, Loan Search, Dr. Ronald Hanauer and Celtic Passions (the Katie Reilly’s store). Prudential uses its basement for offices for its agents and had to tell them to all work from home this week.

“The only thing that saved us was the emergency sump pump,” says Janett. “Bill LaRiccia was smart enough to put an emergency sump pump on top of our regular one. It pumped water out the back. The neighbors noticed and called me to say that something’s wasn’t right.” LaRiccia is the owner of LaRiccia & Son Plumbing and Heating in Verona.

There are two sewer covers like this on the north side, and two on the south.

But the water may not just be piling up because of heavy rain. The low point of Bloomfield Avenue is a bridge over the Peckman River and when Essex County repaired that bridge in the winter of 2005-2006, it put in four new sewer covers. The small openings on those covers appear to get quickly blocked with debris, which causes water to back up. Lombardi and Greenfield say they have had to go into the street more than once in a storm to clear the storm drains. Interestingly, there was no flooding in the yards of the homes that line the Peckman on Monday. The reconstruction of the Bloomfield Avenue and Linden Avenue crossings included work on the Peckman’s banks to keep storm water moving away from the houses.

On Thursday, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. said he would ask his Public Works Department to look into the the flooding and that he himself would come to Verona to meet with Lombardi. The salon owner takes that as a hopeful sign. Says Lombardi, “I don’t want to have to worry every time it rains.”

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected].


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