Press Release

For Immediate Release: August 29, 2011

Union County Asks Residents to Remain on Alert in Aftermath of Hurricane Irene

No serious injuries or fatalities reported, but power out to as many as 60,000 residents; flooding severe in some areas; trees and power lines down throughout

 

 

Union County, NJ – Some areas of Union County are already back to normal just one day after Hurricane Irene, but power outages, flooding, and blocked roads remain major issues in many other parts. County officials asked residents to remain alert and prepare for up to several days before normal conditions are restored throughout the county.

Springfield remained under a boil-water alert as of today. A boil-water alert for Summit had been issued during the storm and was later lifted.

“The state of emergency is no longer in effect, but some areas of Union County were hit much harder than others and we ask all residents for their patience as health and safety issues are addressed on a priority basis,” said Scanlon. “If you need assistance, contact your local or County agencies and only use 911 in cases of a true emergency.”

The state of emergency declaration for Union County was lifted at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday August 28.

Most Union County offices and agencies are operating on a normal schedule today, with these exceptions:

 

  • Paratransit: Only scheduling transportation for life-sustaining appointments such as dialysis today. Normal operations will resume on Tuesday, August 30.
  • Meals-on-Wheels: Congregate meals and deliveries are canceled for today and tomorrow, August 30.
  • Union County Superior Court: The court was ordered closed for today by state officials due to scheduling concerns.
  • Union County recreation facilities: Swimming pools, golf courses, Watchung Stable, and Trailside Nature and Science Center are closed today, though the driving range at Galloping Hill in Kenilworth remains open.

 

Parts of Union County parks are inaccessible due to flooding or road conditions, and residents are urged to exercise caution.

Wednesday’s Summer Arts concert in Oak Ridge Park will go on as scheduled.

“In many parts of the County, life is quickly getting back to normal but for the next several days all residents should continue be alert to ongoing hazards from flooding conditions as well as blocked roads from downed trees and power lines,” said Scanlon.

Electricity remains the issue of greatest concern for many residents. An estimated 60,000 residents were without power as of this morning. PSE&G crews are prioritizing downed power lines and other unsafe conditions, and power is being restored in some areas.

Power to Scotch Plains and Fanwood was cut off on Sunday afternoon due to water damage at electrical facilities. These areas may experience prolonged disruption of service; PSE&G reports that it will begin repairs after the water recedes, which may take 2-3 days.

Large portions of the County experienced flooding, most severely in Cranford, Springfield and Rahway, as well as the northwest section of Berkeley Heights.

During the storm, the Union County police performed hundreds of rescues. Many of the rescues were conducted by boat under flooding conditions including at least 50 in Rahway, 50 in Cranford, and 36 at Albin Drive in Springfield.

“Preparation, planning, and working closely with local and state personnel enabled Union County to conduct an effective emergency response and to assist municipalities that were hardest hit,” said Union County Public Safety Director Andrew Moran. “The public’s willingness to prepare and cooperate with emergency alerts was also extremely important, and I would especially like to thank the residents who complied with travel restrictions and evacuation orders.”

In addition to emergency rescues, Union County also assisted Cranford by installing a temporary command post to answer the township’s police and emergency calls when their municipal facilities were shut down due to flooding, and provided them with portable radios. Radio assistance was also provided to Scotch Plains.

The countywide emergency shelter system took in more than 180 residents at eleven locations. The system was not filled to capacity, indicating that the County is well prepared for an emergency of this magnitude. All of the shelters are now closed with the exception of the Red Cross regional shelter in Clark.

Union County also used its website, www.ucnj.org, to notify residents of the availability of pet-friendly hotels in the area. County personnel were on duty throughout the emergency to provide continuous public updates, safety tips and alerts throughout website and the Union County First Alert system.

The impact on County facilities appears to be minimal, though the kitchen and stored food areas of the County’s Meals-on-Wheels operation in Linden was damaged. Elevators in several buildings were affected and are being restored to operation. County buildings that lost power were able to continue operating with generators.

As cleanup gets underway, Union County will develop information for residents on dealing with mold and other health issues. The County is also developing a plan to work with Cranford and other municipalities that were severely impacted by flooding, for cleaning up debris and garbage.

 

#  #

For more information on any Union County press release, please contact Sebastian D’Elia, Communications Director for the County of Union, or a designee listed at the top of this press release.   Please join the County of Union online at www.ucnj.org, on Facebook at www.ucnj.org/facebook, and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/countyofunionnj.

Facebook Feed