Evening Irene Update: Clark Still Dealing With Rahway River Surge
Emergency Management Coordinator Jerry Fewkes fills us in.
It's been a long day for Clark Emergency Coordinator Jerry Fewkes. Nevertheless, he took a few minutes to update us on Clark's most pressing problem areas post-Irene.
"We thought we were good going into about 5 a.m.," says Fewkes. "But those last four hours of rain from 5 to 9 a.m. totally wiped us out. At 5 a.m. I said 'Wow we did great,' but those last hours killed us."
Several spots in town are still dealing with power outages, most especially along Valley Road, where a tree took down power lines and a transformer. Fewkes says PSEG reps said residents should be prepared for the possibility of being without power for several days. Several other areas are also without power, including some homes along Broadway and off of Oak Ridge Road.
Evacuations and the Red Cross Shelter
Crews did have to evacuate several homes in Clark by boat along Riverview Terrace, near Goodman's Crossing and along Oak Ridge Road. Fewkes reports that there are about 50 people from all over the county at the Red Cross Shelter in the Clark Municipal building.
The Valley Road bridge is still closed to traffic as the Rahway River overflows. Oak Ridge Road is still closed near Brookside Terrace due to flooding.
Fewkes says, "We’ve been going through a lot of generators and pumping, some need both and some need one or the other. I'd say we probably pumped out almost 20 houses today."
Hardest Hit - Valley Road Bridge
Fewkes says that the homes on the right side before the bridge as you head into Linden where amongst the hardest hit. "You hate to see that type of thing, you really do," he says. "We’ve been there several times trying to help with pumps. But then, with the water overflowing, the question is, where do you pump it?"
How Did Clark Do?
Fewkes says Clark was certainly not as hard hit as towns like Rahway and Cranford, where vehicles still can't access many parts of town.
"I think we were pretty well prepared for a lot of this stuff and most of the things that happened are things that happened before," says Fewkes. "The bridge flooding and extended power outages are more serious than what we’ve seen, but they certainly weren't anything new. Ninety-precent of the flooding we’ve seen is in places we’ve seen before."
"The biggest issues were things we have no control over – flooding along Pumpkin Patch brook near Oak Ridge and flooding along Valley Road," says Fewkes. "We had done a decent amount of planning, but you can only do so much. You can’t fool mother nature."
Fewkes says the meter on the Clark Municipal Building measured 8.7 inches of rain.
Downed Trees and Power Lines
"We had some trees that did come down and some wires down on Valley Road and Blake Drive that took wires and a transformer down," says Fewkes. "We didn’t have any one big tree down. We did have three houses that got hit by trees, but fortunately all were relatively minor."
Thank Goodness for Volunteers
Fewkes is in awe of the Clark Emergency Response Team, Clark Emergency Squad, Clark Volunteer Fire Department and other volunteers who banded together to aid the community. "They were at their stations around the clock and put a lot of effort to make things safe," he says. "It was a ton of time these people put in."