Flour power in Harrison

HARRISON – 

The first time it happened, the evening of last Aug. 22, Warren St. resident Dorothy Songile recalled, “I had come outside to bring out the trash and the entire yard was covered in what I thought was snow.”

It turned out to be “whole wheat flour – it looked like corn meal,” Songile said.

And, Songile discovered, it was from Pechter’s, the sprawling commercial bakery whose giant silo practically casts a shadow over the backyard of her 2-family home and garage. “Next morning,” she said, “they sent a crew over with garden hoses to clean the stuff off my garage roof. They were using mops and squeegies to collect it and put the flour in the street.”

But she said they didn’t touch her windows to which flour deposits had firmly adhered. “My grandson and his friend were here a whole week using scrub brushes trying to get it off,” she said.

They were only partly successful, Songile said.

Pechter’s “paid me $150” for the damages but she said she gave $300 to the two boys for their labor.

Then, it happened again. At around 10 a.m. this past Jan. 5, Songile heard what sounded like “pigeons or eagles hitting my windows” and, when she rushed outside to see what was happening, she found her windows. siding and yard “thickly covered” with flour.

“Only this time,” she said, “it was 100 times worse than before.”

And, she said, her neighbors across the street, in the 700 block of Warren St., also got hit, with the material covering their wrought-iron railings and front porch.

She said the stuff also landed on some parked cars on the block and prompted the owners to pay for washings.

“I’ve been living here since 1952,” Songile said, and, in prior years, “some [flour sprays] have happened in smaller bursts,” but not to the extent of the onslaughts last summer and this past winter.

Songile asked the Harrison Board of Health if it could do anything to help her but she said she was told the issue wasn’t a public health matter.

However, she said a BOH representative did accompany her to the bakery to ask if someone from the company could at least respond to her concerns and that has prompted a phone call from a West Orange attorney representing the bakery asking her to submit a damage estimate for review, something she’s now in the process of preparing.

That bill, she said, would likely consist of estimates for power washing, cleaning out her air-conditioners and related expenses.

Songile said she hopes, at some point, to be able to put these disquieting episodes behind her.

– Ron Leir 

The Observer Staff