Snowstorm creates havoc

Photo by Karen Zautyk/ Downed wires are draped dangerously close to roadway at Washington Ave. and Fairview Place, Kearny.


By Karen Zautyk

On Friday night, perhaps for the first time in living memory, local TV weather forecasters provided information the viewers could actually use.
Because the leaves were still on the trees, they warned, snow from the approaching storm would weigh heavily on the branches – more so than in a normal winter snowfall – and those branches, and maybe entire trees, would fall.
There was nothing anyone could do about that, but at least we were warned. And,
starting on Saturday, evidence of the accuracy of this prediction was all over the
After Hurricane Irene, we wrote that Kearny looked like one big crime scene,
with yellow tape blocking off fallen limbs and downed wires on streets throughout
the community.
This weekend, the scene was even more devastating.
Entire blocks were closed. And there were branches everywhere, along with wires
draped over autos, sidewalks and lawns.
“This storm was 100% worse than Hurricane Irene,” said Kearny Police Sgt. John
Manley, deputy coordinator of the town’s Office of Emergency Management. “The
trees still had leaves, and the wet snow, the weight of the snow,” combined to make
conditions extremely hazardous, he noted.

Photos by Karen Zautyk & Anthony J. Machcinski





Post-storm scenes of downed trees and wires, and one resident sawing up a fallen tree (from top): Oakwood Ave., Kearny; Edgar Place, Nutley; Kearny Ave. at Washington Ave., Kearny; River Road, Nutley, and South Midland Ave., Kearny.

“The tops of the trees were splitting and branches were falling everywhere,” he said.
Kearny Police Chief John Dowie told The Observer that, from noon Saturday until noon Sunday, the KPD logged 454 calls.  “As you can imagine, they were mainly downed trees, wires, road closures, flooding, accidents, etc.”
To deal with the 911 deluge, the department held over the morning shift into the afternoon.
Manley  noted that the Kearny Fire Department was also “running from call to call.”  These, he said, involved” downed wires, wires arcing, wires on fire, trees on fire.”
On Saturday, while the snow was still falling, the responders faced particularly perilous conditions. “As we were out there checking things out, trees and branches were falling all around us,” Manley said. “During the storm, it was too dangerous for anyone to work under the trees.”
He could only guess, but he speculated that thousands of branches and perhaps several hundred trees were down all over town.
Clean-up began in full on Sunday, and PSEG, which was on the scene during the storm, was to bring in extra manpower this week to deal with the power outages, which were affecting various neighborhoods.
The OEM was also assessing the damage along with the utility and the Department of Public Works.
The storm even forced the cancellation of the annual Halloween parade, which had been scheduled for Sunday along Kearny Ave.
Mayor Alberto Santos explained that, even though the storm had passed, conditions in town were “unsafe.” The Washington School playground, where costumed children were to gather, had not been cleared and “many sidewalks were not clear.” Add to that the downed trees and fallen power lines.
“We assessed the situation and decided it was much more prudent to cancel,” the mayor said.
The destruction in Kearny was repeated throughout Hudson, South Bergen and Essex counties.
A drive through Nutley on Sunday showed that it appeared to have been especially hard hit. We saw damage on every block we passed. The streets were a carpet of wet foliage. Branches were down on most streets, and there were also limbs covering the railroad tracks. Entire trees had been split, as if some giant lumberjack had taken an ax to them.
Throughout our region, homes were still without power at press time Monday, and some residents had been cautioned that electricity might not be restored until Wednesday.
PSEG was reportedly bringing in utility workers from as far away as  Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi to bolster its own work crews.

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