Ramtown section of Howell takes hard hit during storm

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Flooding on Lakewood-Allen wood Road during the storm on August 13.

Emergency services personnel responded to more than 50 incidents during a six-hour period as a severe rain storm flooded and damaged areas of Howell on the morning of Aug. 13. Officials said 7 inches of rain fell in a two-hour period.

A state of emergency in Howell was declared at 11 a.m. and remained in place until the late afternoon.

In the days following the storm, damage was being assessed and plans for repairs to infrastructure and homes were being formulated.

The Ramtown section of Howell was particularly hard hit during the storm and the basement at the Howell Police Department headquarters on Old Tavern Road was under water.

Officials said a bridge on Allenwood-Lakewood Road between Cascades Avenue
and Vienna Road was compromised by the heavy rainfall.

The bridge was deemed structurally unsafe, the road was closed and a detour was put in place.

Later in the day, Ramtown-Greenville Road collapsed at a bridge between Arnold Boulevard and Moses Milch Drive.

At one point during the day, Route 547 between Oak Glen and Miller roads was closed due to flooding.

In the afternoon, police responded to the Winding Brook development on Route 547 for a medical emergency involving a bariatric patient (relating to the treatment of obesity).

Police said the first officer who arrived at the scene reported that the location was inaccessible by patrol vehicles and ambulances.

The police officer and personnel from a police EMS unit carried equipment through the water to the residence.

Police subsequently deployed a truck which can make a water rescue. The patient was placed on the truck and brought to dry ground where she was transferred to a bariatric-equipped police rig, according to police.

When the Township Council met on the evening of Aug. 14, officials did not have an estimate regarding the extent of the damage to Ramtown-Greenville Road and they could not say how long the road and affected bridge would remain closed.

“We are expecting it will be several weeks at this point, based on preliminary information we have received,” Township Manager Brian Geoghegan said.

Geoghegan gave an overview of some of the damage to Deputy Mayor Robert Nicastro, Councilman Bob Walsh and Councilwoman Evelyn O’Donnell.

Mayor Theresa Berger and Councilwoman Pauline Smith were absent from the meeting.

“Our police department sustained pretty significant flood damage in the basement, throughout the entire basement, and we are working to remedy that now,” he said.

Geoghegan said Preventorium Road was damaged during the storm and had to be repaved by Department of Public Works employees.

“On Ramtown-Greenville Road there was a washout directly adjacent to a Monmouth County bridge and they are going to be evaluating it further. They have to get divers into the water to examine (the damage). That is expected to be closed for quite a while. We do not know how long yet, but probably several weeks at the least,” he said.

Geoghegan said there was also a washout adjacent to a bridge on Allenwood-Lakewood Road. He said Monmouth County’s response to that location was “extremely quick.”

The homes of “several residents in Ramtown suffered significant flood damage. We had DPW drop several containers/dumpsters in a development so residents could discard drywall” and other damaged property, he said.

Nicastro commended all of the first responders, the police department, the Office of Emergency Management, Director of Community Development Jim Herrman and Geoghegan for their actions during the emergency.

“The response was impeccable and very quick,” Nicastro said.

He said Gov. Phil Murphy’s decision to declare a state of emergency was instrumental.

“It was good the governor did that, it really does help (being) able to get some resources into Howell and hopefully some future money.

“Right now we are going through the damage assessment process. We told all the residents to document, document, document (the damages). That is critical.

“Again, I just want to extend a job well done to everybody. It came quick and it came fierce and nobody expected that. I think in two hours we had over 7 inches of rain,” Nicastro said.

Howell K-8 School District administrators are having discussions about bus route implications and are working on alternatives to mitigate the impact of the detours, said Ron Sanasac, the assistant superintendent for business administration/board secretary.

On Aug. 16, U.S. Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) surveyed the flood damage in Howell and met with local officials, residents and law enforcement personnel, and was briefed on the extent of flood damage in Monmouth County after record rainfalls in the area, according to a press release.

“The recent flooding has created a disaster for residents in Monmouth and Ocean counties, plain and simple,” Smith said. “I saw roads and bridges washed out, that may take weeks to repair, and met with homeowners who have suffered nightmarish damage to their properties.

“This flooding requires all hands on deck to help victims recover and I look forward to Gov. Murphy requesting federal disaster assistance so these residents can receive the aid they need right now,” Smith said.

“I am ready to work with our state officials and our entire congressional delegation in support of the anticipated request and to ensure the federal government provides needed and appropriate assistance,” the congressman said.

Among the damage Smith inspected was a damaged bridge on Ramtown-Greenville Road and damaged residences on Pine Needle Street.

Smith met with homeowners and their neighbors, and promised to work to ensure that local disaster victims who are without flood insurance coverage because their homes are not in flood zones are included in FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program, according to the press release.

County officials informed Smith the initial flooding cost to Monmouth County’s infrastructure was $665,000 and that 14 county bridges had been damaged, but by Aug. 16 all but three bridges had been repaired and reopened, according to the press release from Smith’s office.