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South Brunswick's Long Road to Recovery

Officials expect it will take a couple of weeks before South Brunswick returns to pre-Sandy normalcy.

The images of destruction were nothing short of shocking. The familiar sights of South Brunswick replaced by an almost apocalyptic view of the township.

Large toppled trees and utility poles, leaves and branches strewn as far as the eye could see. As the storm raged Monday night, visions in the sky of lights flashing as transformers across the area blew, leaving the entire township in darkness.

As the sun rose on that difficult day after the storm passed, the full scope of destruction to South Brunswick came into a view in the wake of what experts are calling the worst storm in New Jersey history. It's doubtful that whether young or old, anyone will ever forget Sandy.

But as life slowly gets back to normal, it will still be a couple of weeks before the signs of the super storm are gone. 

"A couple of weeks is a fair estimate to return to normal," said police spokesman Sgt. Jim Ryan. "We still have some pockets of town that will be without power for the better part of 10 days. There is a substantial number of trees down. But most of our structures fared pretty well. Unlike Hurricane Irene, we didn't have the rain."

The township Department of Public Works continues to chug away removing the hundreds trees that fell throughout town. The task is made more difficult due to the downed wires from utility poles.

"The biggest problem we have with removing trees is that we can't touch anything that has a wire near it," Sgt. Ryan said. "PSE&G will not authorize us to touch anything without one of their representatives on scene."

Sgt. Ryan added that many residents were confused when they saw power return to an adjacent neighborhood and expected an imminent return to their power.

"Neighborhoods don't always correlate to the switching stations," he said.

A remaining issue in the days ahead is the question of when South Brunswick schools will be up and running. On Thursday, Superintendent Gary McCartney announced schools are closed until further notice.

“Eight of the schools are without power, one roof was blown off a temporary classroom, a baseball dugout and shed were destroyed by high winds, and numerous trees were knocked down," Dr. McCartney said. “It is my desire to bring the students back to school as soon as possible, but only when we can ensure their safety.”

With the winter months on the horizon and the possibility of more lost days to snow, the school year threatens to stretch deep into the summer to make up for the lost time. District officials are expected to update the situation early next week.

Traffic issues on major roadways also caused massive headaches for emergency management officials. Utility crews began work Thursday to clear the long line of downed utility poles from Route 130 north in Dayton, which was closed since Tuesday morning. Route 27 remained closed Thursday due to a downed utility pole. The increased traffic exacerbated problems on roads that simply weren't ready for commuters.

"We're hoping for a lot or progress (Thursday night) on Route 130," Sgt. Ryan said. "There's been a number of accidents in South Brunswick from motorists going through cones that had closed the road off. We understand people's frustrations, but those cones are there for a reason. We had a serious accident on Wednesday from someone driving through the cones."

Furthering frustrations for residents was a lack of available gas, which caused long lines at gas stations as fights broke out between angry motorists.

"There has been some heated tensions on the gas station lines," Sgt. Ryan said. "We understand that everyone is under a lot of stress and we're all working to get through the tough times we're in right now."

First responders also battled a blaze on New Road from a downed wire that became charged and caused a roof to catch fire. There was also a chimney fire on Fresh Ponds Road to be dealt with.

Sgt. Ryan also stressed to residents without power who are relying on generators to please make sure the generators are kept outside. A 55-year-old New Brunswick man was found dead in his home this week from what police believe was carbon monoxide poisoning from a running generator in the basement of his house.

Sgt. Ryan urged residents to be patient with the difficult and painful recovery process and stressed that the township was working diligently to bring South Brunswick back from the wrath of Sandy.

"We're working long hours and the staff is doing the best we can to secure people's safety," he said. "When people go without power for a number of days, tension starts to mount. But we're working as hard as we can to things back to normal."

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Scott Calandra November 02, 2012 at 04:21 PM
I posted this in on one other thread. Hope it's not true. But I have a 4 year old and a baby with no power. Hearing a story like this just gets me angry. The pole that is down on new road I'd still there. Untouched. And nixle communication
Scott Calandra November 02, 2012 at 04:21 PM
No communication at all from pseg
Daniel November 02, 2012 at 05:00 PM
What taking so long with the pole on 27 in front of the Post Office/Former A&P?
JENNIFER KLEIN November 02, 2012 at 05:13 PM
I am proud to be a South Brunswick resident today! Our PD and Administrators have done an excellent job making sure folks have warmth, food, and power, whether it's by getting things restored or by providing warming/charging stations. Woohooo SB!!
George November 02, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Anyone know about power in Deans.
Daniel November 02, 2012 at 05:24 PM
We got power back for a around a minute last night around 10pm only to lose it again.
George November 02, 2012 at 05:30 PM
We did to. Nothing being told to us about the power.
Cathleen DiBenedetto November 02, 2012 at 05:30 PM
I too am very proud to say I call South Brunswick my home for the last 31 years.....I do have a question though.....Oak Woods on Rt 522 is Low Income Senior housing....I know it is not assisted living but just a building that houses low income seniors...That said I was wondering why the generator that was brought to that building has not been connected??? This is the 3rd time these seniors who are living on very tight budgets will have to replace everything in their refrigerators...This is really costly for anyone but for people living on tight budgets this could send then to the poor house..If anyone can please get that generator up and running it would be wonderful for them.My aunt is at my house but she is trapped upstairs in my bedroom because she cannot do steps and my bathrooms are on the second floor..Others do not have family around to help them..Thanks for any help or any info cause no one answers the phone at Oak Woods to even give us any info...
theresa November 02, 2012 at 05:47 PM
South Brunswick has been doing a wonderful job cleaning up the township, thank you! What is really getting me upset though, is that people are going through barracades that are blocking downed poles, why, please stop doing this, I wish we had police stationed at these blocked streets giving out tickets! Don't you think our police department and township workers have enough to do, then to babysit ingnorant people!!!
Niraj Dubey November 02, 2012 at 05:49 PM
I've been following these posts...and yes I too have the same update of Nov 9..(from Nov 5 earlier), which is frustrating. More so because..the George's road area in Dayton (towards rt 130 - Wetherhill Way, Kanan dr etc)...look OK, however no power as yet. Wonder if calling or emailing our area rep/congressman 'Rush Holt' will help here...
theresa November 02, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Still no power on Deans Rhode Hall Road, anyone know anything about when it might be restored?
Bev Caruso November 02, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Latest e-mail from South Brunswick - FRIDAY UPDATE: Power information, Fuel locations, food locations 12:30pm FRIDAY UPDATE: Representatives from PSE&G promised additional resources to South Brunswick in the next day. Township officials relayed the scope of the outages to PSE&G. The company could not provide any more specific time table for restoration then 7 days. The warming day shelter, charging stations, and showers are all operational. FEMA representatives were in South Brunswick to help assess the situation. Power reports are only estimations based on citizen feedback and officer observations. PSE&G has the official list and residents should call 1-800-436-7734 to report outages. Power has been restored to Finnegans Lane and Route 1 intersection. It is unclear if the restored power applies to any of the Finnegans Lane homes affected by the outage. Power remains out in the following areas that were previously believed to have been restored – parts of Fresh Impressions Development, Tamaron Woods, The Villagio , parts of Friendship Road FUEL LOCATIONS Wawa - Route 535 / Deans Rhode Hall Road Valero – Route 27 / Allston Road Valero – both locations Route 130 – Distribution Way and Dey Road Valero – Route 1 by Deans Lane Lukoil – Rout 27 Sunocco – 27 /18 Shell – 1/ Finnegans Lane FOOD Stop-Shop – Route 27- limited Stop-Shop – Route 522 – limited ShopRite – Route 130 (North Brunswick)- Full power
Daniel November 02, 2012 at 05:59 PM
I wish PSE&G would give us a straightforward answer about our area and not just the November 9th blanket answer they are giving to their entire service area across the state.
Bev Caruso November 02, 2012 at 06:06 PM
I can't help but wonder why it has taken 5 days to get additional resources in South Brunswick.
George November 02, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Who knows. But the people driving through barriers are idiots!
Lisa Rodgers November 02, 2012 at 07:16 PM
I know it has been tough, but we all have to realize there are so many resources (people) to go around. I think the township has done a wonderful job in keeping us updated via NIXLE. If you haven't signed up for this by now, you should. My folks live in North Brunswick, and I was not able to get any update as they are not on NIXLE.
LK2011 November 02, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Nixle has been a great lifeline! Trying to get information about Monroe and many other towns is almost impossible. We really appreciate the efforts of the SB police and other emergency staff.
George November 02, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Anyone have word on power in Deans?
Barbara McWilliams November 02, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Does anyone know arrangements will be made for those polling places that do not have power? Will we be allowed to vote at an alternative site? Thanks for any information. As of now Brunswick Acres School Districts 11 & 12 have no power.
james November 03, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Does anyone know when new road is going to get power some are saying the 9th but that cant be true someone please let me know
nycmarathonman November 03, 2012 at 01:28 AM
I think that all South Brunswick residents should thank the Township Police Department for using Nexle as the primary means of communication to everyone. We are also so vey thankful that the power was restored after just 16 hours to my part of town. As for those people who drive thru police department barricades, you deserve to get a one way ticket to your new residence - Atlntic City. They have a great mayor. He deserves to be lunching on bread and water.
Scott Calandra November 03, 2012 at 02:09 AM
S omething very weird just happened when I signed into my pseg account. There's an automated message that says power will be restored by November 9th. And right underneath it. Another message says power has been restored to your area. My power is still out. Anyone else get this message?
Pamela November 03, 2012 at 02:32 AM
When I called PSE&G I was told my power had been restored, but when I spoke to a representative he said that it just meant that the majority of the larger electrical restoration was restored, not necessarily residential.
Alhad Sathe November 03, 2012 at 11:43 AM
We don't have power in Villagio on Stouts Lane. We are also told that it will be restored by Nov 9th.
Jay November 03, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Does anybody know if special township pickup will occur for storm cleanup, like shrubs and debris?
SBHS Dad November 04, 2012 at 04:52 PM
I get multiple status emails from PSEG daily.
Joe R November 04, 2012 at 05:05 PM
@Scott: this is a lie, LIE, a zombie myth being promoted by union haters. No crews are being turned away union or non-union. Stop spreading these right wing nasty lies and propaganda. I'm surprised you didn't blame the NJEA, too. The NJEA is the favorite scapegoat of the union bashers.
Joe R November 04, 2012 at 06:14 PM
From cbsnews.com: "Alabama power companies are denying a local TV station's report that linemen who had traveled to New Jersey from Alabama (a right to work state) to help restore power to those hit hard by Superstorm Sandy were told they could not work there because they were non-union."
Partha November 05, 2012 at 02:58 AM
I would have liked to see some sort of statement from Mayor Gambatese, commiserating with citizens, and that town officials are coordinating with the various agencies to get semblance of order restored. Unfortunate.
Cathleen DiBenedetto November 06, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Has anyone heard anything about water being restored to Oak Woods Senior housing on Rt 522? As of this morning they still had no water because of a water main break in front of CIL on Rt 522 yesterday.....These poor people what's next for them...

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