Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Monday, August 29, 2011

Plainfield copes with Hurricane Irene

'Lake Netherwood' from East Front Street.
Plainfielders can cope with just about anything, Hurricane Irene included.

The storm certainly did occupy Plainfielders this weekend, though perhaps not in the ways we originally thought it might.


Flooding occurred in the usual places: Stelle Avenue and Randolph Road were both overrun by the Cedar Brook, but were clear to traffic before 2 PM; Netherwood Avenue was a lake between East Front Street and the bridge over the Green Brook.

'Lake Shakespeare', the flooded cricket pitch at Cedar Brook Park,
with the  Shakespeare Garden in the rear.


Fallen trees were another matter, and primarily responsible for the widespread power outages.

Readers reported many trees down (with special thanks to Councilor Williams and reader Bob B.): Park Avenue/West 8th Street, Hillside/Evergreen, Hillside/Lake Street, Putnam/Woodland, Laramie Road, DeKalb Avenue, Charlotte Road, Belvidere Avenue, Dorsey Place, Oakland Avenue, Watchung Avenue, West Front Street and Johannis Place/Bradford Street.

Downed tree on West Front Street warns 'Private Property'.


Power was out through most of the city (as well as North Plainfield) Saturday morning, except for west of Plainfield Avenue and south of West 4th Street.

By midday, after the skies brightened considerably, some neighborhoods began to come back online, though the downtown remained without power from the Green Brook to Seventh Street throughout the day and into the evening.

Police were at many corners in the central business district directing traffic throughout the day and into the evening.

By 10:30 PM last evening, much of the city was back online, except for a large swath east of Roosevelt Avenue running from the Green Brook to North Avenue, plus sections the Sleepy Hollow area. One reader and her husband went to friends who had electricity to shower and get a hot meal, but texted me (at 2:55 AM!) that their power was still out.

Freeholder Carter texted me at 6:30 AM that her power was back on (near St. Bernard's church) and blogger Jackie S. (Mt. Zion AME neighborhood) advised the world at 8:05 AM that her power was restored.

Despite all but one store being closed, downtown was mobbed with thousands of people strolling, chatting in small clumps at the benches sprinkled around and lounging on the retaining walls at the Park-Madison office complex. The playground at Madison and West Second Street was mobbed with families and youngsters, and bridges over the Green Brook from one end of the city to the other were thronged with strollers taking pictures of each other and the surging stream.

There were steady streams of people walking along both East and West Front Streets, either coming downtown to see what was going or returning home after some socializing.

The ONLY store I saw open in the main business district was Maritza's Boutique, where Maritza was holding court just inside the entry of the darkened store. On West Front Street, next to Kings Daughters Day School, I was able to get a bottle of semi-cold water from the convenience store where I buy the papers, but only because I had the exact change of $1, since their power was out like everyone else's.

For some reason, almost all the cabs I spotted were Soria's, the North Plainfield company, which seemed strange since there should have been plenty of business with no bus or train service.

Since both county parks were DESIGNED TO BE FLOODED, I always enjoy checking them out after a storm.

While snapping pictures of the Green Brook at the North Plainfield end of the new Sandford Avenue bridge, I heard the WABC announcer say, 'The Green Brook in North Plainfield is at the highest, fastest and loudest levels ever, according to my son who lives there,' just as I was saying to myself, 'this sure is making a lot of noise'.

It was at this bridge that I also saw and snapped a gentleman who was busy cleaning out the storm drains near his house, something that everyone should think of doing to help ease flooding of streets in their neighborhood.

Green Brook Park was dramatically flooded -- on both sides of the roadway -- to an extent I don't think I have ever seen before. There was a tree down across the roadway between Myrtle Avenue and the (missing) Blue Hills Fort Plaque, but folks were driving in from the Clinton Avenue end. I have made those photos into a slide show (see below).

A homeowner pitched in by cleaning debris out of storm drain.

By the time I got there (2:30 or so), the Cedar Brook was far less dramatic, though it had swept away a lot of the Japanese Knotweed that lines the Stelle Avenue bank -- along with a good bit of the bank -- opening a view of the outlet behind Plainfield High School that I have never seen. Taking pictures, I noticed a very strong and unpleasant chemical odor coming from the vicinity of the outlet, and wondered what that could be from.

Got a couple of interesting pictures of 'Lake Shakespeare', where the waters had flooded the cricket pitch like a lake.
The city's website -- miracle of miracles! -- was actually updated several times in the course of twenty-four hours with brief notes on conditions and issues. The city is to be commended for getting its act together for the Hurricane, though I am not aware of anyone who took advantage of the shelters that were offered.

But as mother always said, 'Better safe than sorry'.

All in all, Plainfield seems to have coped well, and all that is left for us now is mopping up and getting rid of all the leaves and twigs blown down onto our yards.

As one man who was taking photos of the Green Brook on the bridge behind McDonalds said to me, 'This is nothing, mon.'

He told me he was originally from Barbados.

Enough said.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Chet said...

Parts of Sleepy Hollow, Evergreen, Netherwood are almost impossible even drive through, trees down on almost every street, snapped poles and lines. I have a bad feeling we will be one of the last areas to get power back.

Anonymous said...

DAY TWO no electricity, no telephone, no hotwater, no refrigeration, basement filled with two feet of water, cold shower . . .

And the recording says the power will be restored Sunday September 4th. WHY?!

Anonymous said...


Still no power south of Stelle down Park Ave to 1200 Block. Thorton and other lateral streets are out. We have been down since 2:00 yesterday afternoon. So all is not well. PSE&G is saying from one day to maybe the 4th of Setember. Catch up!

Anonymous said...

There was a transformer explosion at Watchung and colonial circle at about 3:30-4:00 which killed the power in many of the remaining ward 2 homes.

Anonymous said...

No power and no action, only police posted all night and day at the tree down on Chetwynd Ave. No chain saws except privately contracted ones. Today is Tuesday and there is no progress. have alll the power trucks gone to the shore to open it for tourist dollars?