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UPDATE: Power Restored For 1,100 In South…

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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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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