22 Aug 2014
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MORE UPDATES: Even With Water Receding, Irene Leaves Her Mark

Some Bernards Township roads reopening, but damage remains along with power outages for about 2,000 at about 2 p.m. Airports closed.

Even with heavy rains stopped as of Sunday mid-afternoon and even glimpses of pale sunshine, the aftereffects of Irene were everywhere in Bernards Township and adjoining communities.

Roads such as Valley Road were closed until around noon, but were reopened shortly before 12:30 p.m., even though puddling remained.

As of shortly before 4 p.m., a large downed tree still blocked South Finley Avenue near the Copper Kettle Deli in downtown Basking Ridge, after reportedly toppling over earlier Sunday morning.

Police Sgt. Mike Shimsky, director of the Bernards Township Office of Emergency Management said Somerset County is responsible for removing the tree from Finley, a county road. In the meantime, he suggested detouring on local roads.

By about 8 p.m. on Sunday, portions of Lake Road, Valley Road between Spring Valley and Mount Airy Road, and King George had re-opened, Shimsky said.

Aannounced as closed as of shortly before 11 a.m., remained cut off as of soon after 3:30 p.m., said Police Sgt. Mike Shimsky, also director of the Bernards Township Office of Emergency Management.

Shimsky said Lake Road, between Brook Ridge and Culberson Road, had been added to the list later in the afternoon.

Elsewhere around the township, dangerously perched trees or tree limbs remained, evidently knocked down during the night.

including portions of Maple and Finley avenues. About 2,000 customers were reported to be without power as of about 2 p.m. Sunday.

Some businesses open

Some businesses offering essential items were open as of Sunday afternoon, including in Lyons.

The Valero 202 gas station on Valley Road also was open, and local hotels did very well providing rooms for those who needed a place to stay, said Al LiCata, executive director of the Bernards Township Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The Rite-Aid in at the Village Highlands Center off Allen Road in The Hills was scheduled to be open until 8 p.m. Sunday, and had been very crowded all day, an employee said. Shelves normally holding water were empty but for a few bottles of pricier water. 

 in the same shopping center also was open Sunday evening and very busy. It is due to be open until 9 p.m. , offering Chinese food in The Hills, also was packed at about 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, on lower ground, LiCata said the chamber had helped on Friday to evacuate Mark's Auto Service on Valley Road in a flood-prone section of Stirling in nearby Long Hill Township.

Parts of Stirling flooded in Long Hill

While Valley Road may have cleared with relative ease in Bernards Township, Long Hill Township wasn't so lucky. Near the Passaic River, Valley Road (Route 512) heading east into downtown Stirling in Long Hill was under a few feet of water on Sunday afternoon with motorists deciding whether to try fording the flood — or to turn around. Large pickup trucks were more likely to pass through the water than standard cars.

Many front yards in Stirling, not far from the Passaic River, also were inundated with shallow lakes on their property on Sunday afternoon.

The response to the storm kept many emergency responders up all night. Shimsky said on Sunday morning that he was among those out all night, even after preparing ahead of time for Irene's arrival.

At about 12:30 p.m., Liberty Corner Fire Chief Peter Aprahamian said he and some of the other volunteers with the fire company and rescue squad had been awake and about since Saturday afternoon.

Along with providing backup to the Basking Ridge Fire Company for a contained house fire off Woodstone Road, reported to be in the basement, Aprahamian said the fire company also answered such calls as carbon monoxide alarms going off. That situation was sometimes linked to portable home generators, he said.

Aprahamian said township police and police dispatchers had done a fanstastic job of coordinating efforts with the volunteer emergency responders. Firefighter Glenn Hurt said he also had been up all night.

Tree limbs were everywhere even after skies had pretty much cleared. A very large tree was cracked and had fallen on wires in front of a home on Church Street in downtown Liberty Corner, across from the Liberty Corner School. Aprahamian said the fire company had not responded to that situation, but he believed it had fallen overnight, when winds were heaviest.

Flooding also was fairly heavy in Long Hill Township, where pedestrians and residents came out to look at Passaic Street, blocked off to drivers, as it intersected with other local roads such as Mercer Street.

In Bernards, Aprahamian said the long night was "as expected [but] it really had the potential to be a lot worse."

The Port Authority of NY and NJ announced Sunday that Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had on Sunday suspended air traffic control services at five regional airports: John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia, Teterboro and Stewart International. Travelers are urged to contact their carriers prior to leaving for the airport.

The Basking Ridge Patch will continue to add to this story.

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