Home NS Sentinel N/S Sentinel News Damage from Tropical Storm Ida continues to be assessed in Brunswick area

Damage from Tropical Storm Ida continues to be assessed in Brunswick area

PHOTO COURTESY OF SOUTH BRUNSWICK POLICE DEPARTMENT

On Nassau Street in North Brunswick, a pipe that was submerged under water due to the heavy rains of Tropical Storm Ida on Sept. 1 was restricting the flow of water.

The bowling alley off Carolier Lane had water up to its loading dock, and a pipe was under 4 feet of water.

On Remsen Avenue, the pipe that usually takes water from the municipal building area was also under 4 feet of water.

Banks were ready to overflow on the North Brunswick side of Livingston Avenue, while on the New Brunswick side, apartment buildings flooded.

A garbage bin was in the creek by the bridge at Livingston Avenue, blocking a pipe near the railroad tracks. The 8-yard front load container blocked 90% of the pipe going under the bridge.

Water was coming out of the catch basins of the North Brunswick Police Department, flooding the building, and damaging the Office of Emergency Management, and the North Brunswick Food Bank and North Brunswick Historical Society areas of the basement.

Six Mile Run by Jersey Avenue and Brunswick Knolls was flooded, and water overflowed the top of the bridge on Cozzens Lane.

A tree knocked down by the storm blocked the flow of water on Willowbrook Drive. Also, a portion of the sidewalk was caved in with the pipe missing.

“It was just too much water at one time,” Eric Chaszar, director of North Brunswick Public Works, said during the Sept. 20 Township Council workshop meeting about the dangerous storm earlier this month. “The egress of water out of this town was pretty much done.”

The North Brunswick Police Department was severely damaged. Police Chief Joseph Battaglia said remediation has begun. The insurance adjuster visited on Sept. 20 and advised that the department shift into trailers or an off-site facility so remediation work can proceed uninterrupted.

The chief said there are eight trailers in the parking lot on the police side that are wired for electricity and internet, and the police department is moving to a secure building on Livingston Avenue.

“A lot of this is determined on the fact that this is going to take a lot of lead time. Everybody knows it’s difficult to get parts right now,” he said, saying the average time is eight to 16 weeks to get parts, and then adding in time for labor.

The police department lost 29 vehicles in its fleet, three radar trailers and the EarthCam camera trailer.

Battaglia said departments from around Middlesex County have loaned North Brunswick vehicles: East Brunswick, Edison, Metuchen, Middlesex Borough, Monroe Township, New Brunswick, Perth Amboy, Piscataway, Sayreville, South Amboy and South River.

He said because of the coronavirus pandemic and the computer chip shortage, it is “extremely difficult” to get police-grade vehicles.

However, a resolution was presented during the Sept. 20 meeting to ask for an emergency purchase of 10 Chevrolet Tahoes from Texas. The vehicles will be shipped as soon as possible, and light and decal vendors will give them high priority, Battaglia said.

For the Sept. 27 meeting, seven Dodge Chargers from Pennsylvania and three Dodge Chargers from Indiana should be put on the agenda for approval.

Business Administrator Justine Progebin said the certification of funds will allow insurance to post the expenses as escrow, since the cars are covered under insurance.

In addition, the North Brunswick Food Bank sustained extensive damage during Ida. Operations have moved to the North Brunswick Senior Center, 15 Linwood Place, from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and from 6-7:30 p.m. Thursdays.

Donations of non-perishable food items, gift cards and funding are needed. Individuals who wish to help may stop by the senior center from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, or make checks payable to the North Brunswick Food Bank.

“After Tropical Storm Ida there was much impact and we are really reaching out to the public to ask for donations,” said Lou Ann Benson, director of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services.

Craig Yetsko is working on sharing cable studio services with the Board of Education offices at Linwood School.

Councilman Ralph Andrews said Ida was a 200-year storm engineering-wise, meaning a storm of that proportion is only expected every 200 years. However, he mentioned the grade from street level to the police department property is low, although the township has never seen flooding like this before.

Progebin and Battaglia met with a representative from FEMA who said municipal officials can apply for immediate loss funding, as well as an infrastructure grant for mitigation.

Battaglia said in the future, there should be a way to move emergency operations from the municipal building to another location.

“Storm water has really come to the forefront in addition to water and sewer,” Progebin said.

In South Brunswick, any residents with questions about storm-related damage should email Lt. Gene Rickle at erickle@sbpdnj.net

The South Brunswick Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has conducted an after-action review of the storm. The review examined the conditions and response to the widespread flash flooding in conjunction with the Monmouth Junction, Kendall Park and Kingston fire departments.

According to the findings, there were 50 homes damaged, 33 vehicles flooded and towed, 15 people rescued from flooded vehicles, one firetruck damaged and one water pump station damaged, according to information provided by the department.

The review also found several issues that impacted the flash flooding problems:

• Rainfall in excess of 6 inches fell between 5-11 p.m.;

• Garbage cans left out in residential neighborhoods were swept away and clogged storm drains;

• Several motorists drove around flooded and closed roads;

• Route 1/Raymond Road continued to have stream overflow problems well after the storm.

South Brunswick OEM personnel will continue to work with Middlesex County OEM personnel and state officials on the issues of flash flooding, according to the statement.

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com.

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