PHOTOS: New Providence Begins to Recover from Irene's Wrath
Some residential streets are flooded, while others are suffering from downed power lines, poles, and fallen trees and limbs. Chief Buccelli alerts all residents to boil water from their faucets before consumption.
Hurricane Irene ripped through New Providence early this morning, damaging cars, homes and commercial properties, flooding parts of town, and causing trees, power lines and poles to fall.
Several residents are without power, others are now without their cars and the comforts of home.
While some residents may still have running water, Chief of Police Anthony Buccelli advised residents at 5:30 p.m. Sunday to boil any water for consumption for at least one minute until further notice and to visit www.amwater.com for more information.
DAMAGES ON VERONA ROAD
A large tree on Barbara Testa’s Verona Road property fell on her car and part of her house around 4:45 a.m. Sunday morning, totaling her vehicle and damaging her roof.
Testa said she was asleep when the tree, which is right next to the road itself, fell on her roof just above her bedroom. To make matters worse, her finished basement is flooded as well.
“I guess the water soaked the ground, I don’t think it was wind,” said Testa, who has lived in her home for about 2 ½ years. “I just feel the tree belongs to the town. They should be checking their trees. Anything on the first 6-to-8 feet belongs to the town. There's no reason why they can't check their trees for the taxes we pay. I'm paying almost $9,000 in taxes. Every other town, the first 6-to-8 feet belongs to the town. I have to pay for this."
Testa, a senior citizen, said her taxes have been raised every year.
“They raise them anyhow. I go down [to the Borough Offices] and they say ‘Oh, well you haven’t lived here long enough,’” Testa said. “I’m 71 and once you’re 65, you’re not supposed to have your taxes raised. That’s a state law.”
Testa said she called her insurance company, but she’s not sure when they would be by to assess the damages.
“I’m a widow so I’m by myself,” she said. “This is rough on me.”
Testa’s neighbor, Frank Mandato, also suffered damages to the side of his home from the fallen tree.
“I know the gutter is damaged,” Mandato said. “I hope the siding isn’t damaged, but I don’t know yet.”
Barbara Pacio, Testa’s daughter, lives just four houses down and also had a tree fall on her property.
“It’s just interesting that of the two houses that got it, they’re related,” said Kelly Lorne, a Berkeley Heights resident who used to live on Verona Road. “We used to live [next door to Frank Mandato] so we came to check on them because they’re our friends.”
REPORTED FLOODING AT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Lorne, who lives in Berkeley Heights and did not suffer any damages, said there was flooding at the Presbyterian Church at New Providence.
“For us, personally, [my son] was working on his Eagle Scout project, and I put it in the garage at the Presbyterian Church at New Providence, and the garage is two feet under water so we had to go fish the project out,” Lorne said. “The parking lot is a pond and the garage out back is two feet under water. They canceled church.”
After visiting the Presbyterian Church Sunday afternoon, a Department of Public Works truck was cleaning up water in the parking lot.
BROOK FLOODS NEAR COMMUNITY POOL
Just up the road, the brook by the New Providence Community Pool that leads to the Passaic River was flooded, with water reaching up to the bridge that connects the parking lot to the pool entrance. Some water was in the parking lot.
Peter Ekert, a borough resident for 25 years, was walking his dog, Rusty, along the brook after having walked along Sagamore Drive and Central Avenue.
“[Damage I saw] actually wasn’t too bad. Not too many branches down, which is really good. [The brook] is probably the worst right here with the water. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this much.”
Ekert said he thought there would be more damage from falling branches, but he did not see much around the borough and there was no damage to his property.
“Branches here and there, nothing really out of the ordinary. But this actually is. I’ve never seen this [water] this high.”
MINOR FLOODING/DAMAGES AT COMMUNITY POOL
Right near the brook is the New Providence Community Pool, which suffered some minor flooding in the basement, but no contamination to its three pools, said Assistant Manager Christine Cronin.
“[The water] was up over my knees... there’s still water, but this has receded tremendously. There was water up to the second step. We’re sumping it out,” Cronin said. “And the reason water came in is because we lost power so the sump pump couldn’t get it out.”
Cronin said she came to work around 9:30 a.m., while maintenance workers were there even earlier.
“Look how high it was up on the wall. So I’m not kidding, I had to lift my pants up,” she said. “We’re working hard. It’s incredible what we’ve done so far. We’re going to try to reopen as soon as we can. The upper pool was picture perfect, the lower pool just had some water in the dry pit.”
Cronin said the chairs at the pool were stacked up to give them weight and they all survived the night without blowing away or into the pools. But having lost power, the filtering system also shut off.
“Our filter system works through a vacuum principle so when we lose the power, we lose that particular filtering set up that we have. So what happens is the leaves are just falling in the pool… and to [vacuum the pools] right now is hard because the wind is still coming down.”
But Cronin and Assistant Manager Steve Hughes have five lifeguards and two maintenance workers helping to clean up.
“We picked our real hard working ones and they’ll have this place clean in no time at all,” Cronin said. “I looked at it this morning and said ‘can I do this on my own?’ and I said, ‘No!’”
Courtney Paone, a 17-year-old senior at Governor Livingston High School in Berkeley Heights, was one of the lifeguards who came in to help clean the pool grounds on Sunday.
“I guess the leaves and the branches are bad, but they stacked the chairs so they wouldn’t fall into the water. The leaves just keep falling down,” said Paone, who was picking up leaves and branches near the pool playground.
Paone said the power at her house in Berkeley Heights went out around 4 a.m. this morning.
“I heard the neighbors saying how the power companies told us it would be a couple of days until our power was turned back on,” she said, “and then a telephone pole fell over right next to our house. There’s trees down [too] but nothing actually hit our house.”
FLOODING ON CENTRAL AVENUE AT CHATHAM BORDER
Central Avenue is closed off to traffic in either direction at the Chatham border, although Patch did observe one large truck driving through it.
Chris Ash, an NPHS Class of 88’ graduate and former wrestler, was jogging on Central Avenue near the border on Sunday afternoon. He said he used to live on that street growing up, right where the road is flooded from Irene.
“I grew up in New Providence, but I live in Boulder, Colo.,” he said. “I was on a business trip to New York and I got evacuated from where I was so I’m staying with my parents.”
MORE DAMAGE AROUND BOROUGH
Several streets in New Providence are flooded and closed off to traffic, including Ridge Street, Central Avenue near the Chatham border as previously mentioned, and the intersection of Clement Road and Charnwood Road.
Early Sunday afternoon, there were tree limbs, branches and wires down on Maple Street near the Central Avenue intersection.
As of 2 p.m., South Street was cleared of a large tree limb blocking the road in both directions.
There was a tree limb on part of Glenside Road near the Mountain Avenue intersection, which was closed off to traffic. There was also a tree limb down across a home and a parked car on Tall Oaks Drive at Acorn Drive and a tree down across a front lawn on Oldwood Drive off South Street.
Near the New Providence Train Station at the intersection of Old Springfield Avenue and Division Avenue, there are power lines and poles down, as well as tree limbs down on Division Avenue as of 2 p.m.
Kelly Lorne, of Berkeley Heights, said she observed two large fallen trees on Oakwood Drive in New Providence that did not hit any houses.
All around the borough, residents are beginning to clean up the fallen branches and leaves. Others are taking the time to shop at several of the open stores.
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