A few low-lying areas in Kearny took a bit of a beating last Wednesday from the torrential downpour that hit during the early-morning hours.
The Harrison Weather Center reported “anywhere from one to 1.5 inches of rainfall falling in under a half hour” in the area.
That deluge caused flooding conditions that uprooted a storm line manhole and pavement on Schuyler Ave., inundated Arlington Ave., infiltrated basements on Elm St. and swamped parking lots at Tappan and Dukes Sts., said Public Works Director Gerry Kerr.
Additionally, by chance, the bathroom in police headquarters on Laurel Ave. flooded – which Mayor Alberto Santos blamed on a sewer-system backup, and not the rainstorm.
Kerr said the incident on Schuyler happened at around 4:30 a.m. in the midst of the electrical storm that, one resident told The Observer, produced a streak of lightning that apparently sparked neither fire nor damage.
But the onrushing water did raise some havoc on Schuyler, a major northsouth artery that runs through the town, between Hoyt and King Sts.
“Because of it being high tide, a full moon and the large amount of rain that fell in a short time, the water pushed against the manhole cover and rim and lifted it up and also pushed up the asphalt,” Kerr said.
Santos said: “The same thing happened four years ago in the same location.” It cost “$6,000 or $7,000” to repair the damage then, he recalled.
Initially, Santos said, officials speculated that last week’s rupture may have been triggered by a failure of a storm outfall netting chamber designed to trap bottles and cans.
“If that’s not cleaned on a quarterly basis, the accumulated debris can collect and the excess water can be pushed back up the storm line,” he said.
But Santos said that possibility was ruled out after the chamber was found to be clear. It had most recently been cleaned out some two weeks ago, according to Kerr.
Kerr said that the lion’s share of the water from the compromised manhole and storm line “stayed on Schuyler and went into the catch basin just south of there.”
The town called in its emergency contractor Montana Construction of Lodi to replace the manhole lid and cover with a “grated” cover and repave that section of Schuyler.
Kerr said a grated cover has slots cut into it and is designed to relieve the pressure of heavy water flow during high storm events by allowing excess water to “bubble out” through the openings, “as opposed to lifting the frame.”
This time, the repair bill will be about $9,000, Kerr said.
Police rerouted traffic on Schuyler between King St. and Bergen Ave. after the rupture and during repairs which were completed by Thursday afternoon.
Businesses on Arlington Ave. dealt with excess water and Second Ward Councilman Jonathan Giordano, who runs a cabinet business on the street, said that some owners were concerned that only one of the two electric pumps newly installed by the town there may have been working.
But Kerr said that both pumps were operating during the storm. Any flooding issues that resulted were due to “strictly the volume of water that came down in a short period of time.”
Water did, however, penetrate the basements of some houses on the east side of Elm St., between the railroad tracks and Columbia Ave., Kerr said. “As the water was rushing down Columbia, it went over the curb into the basements. At least two houses are confirmed.”