Posts Tagged ‘snow storm’

By Charles Layton

In an automated phone call to residents early Monday morning, Neptune Township called this “the most significant blizzard in recorded history for our area,” and Mayor Mary Beth Jahn, in several separate messages, pleaded with people to stay indoors.

Roads remain impassable, authorities said, and residents should not try to drive under any circumstances. To do so is a genuine risk to life. Anyone with a medical or other emergency should call 911 for assistance rather than venturing out.

An email message from Municipal Clerk Rick Cuttrell said that Neptune would have around 30 inches of snow. (That’s since been revised to 27 inches, which they’re calling the “official” amount.) Other communities in Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex counties had similar amounts.

“Needless to say, this is one of the all-time greatest snowstorms in history,” Cuttrell said, “and perhaps could be a record setter in many coastal communities.”

Temperatures remain in the 20s today, and high winds are hampering snow-clearing efforts.

According to weather.com, we’ve had sustained winds of 25 to 35 miles an hour, with gusts up to 50 miles an hour, causing considerable drifts of snow.

A bus carrying about 50 people was stuck overnight in such drifts on the Garden State in Monmouth County, and ambulances were having trouble reaching the bus because of numerous stranded cars blocking the way. The passengers were said to be still on the bus as of 6 am, but, according to the Associated Press, “authorities said they were doing well.” Troopers used their own money to buy water and food for the passengers.

Police said that ramps on the Garden State and the New Jersey Turnpike were cluttered with stranded and abandoned vehicles, and plows and tow trucks were having a hard time clearing them out.

Route 18 in Neptune Township was especially bad. In an email statement this morning, Mayor Jahn described it as “completely impassable.”

“At this time,” she said, “we have ambulances with patients and approximately 20-30 private citizen cars stuck on Route 18. We have reached out to the state, which owns this road, for assistance, and they do not have the resources to clear this road. Neptune Public Works, Police, and Fire and one tow truck per vehicle are working to free these cars. However, we are having difficulty obtaining tow trucks to come out in this storm, and because we need so many resources to free each vehicle, it is pushing our plowing schedule way behind.” (For the mayor’s entire message, see the posting “Blizzard Creating Havoc” farther down.)

Dozens of stranded people who’ve been rescued were being sheltered temporarily at the Municipal Court.

Both locally and at the state level, a picture was emerging of resources stretched beyond limits and authorities fighting against chaos. “The state police superintendent urged people to stay off the roads Monday unless they absolutely have to travel,” the AP reported.

The AP said the stalled bus in Monmouth County had been stuck in snow drifts of up to five feet. Such snow drifts were being widely reported, in fact, and officials were frustrated by the number of people who insisted on trying to drive in such severe conditions.

The AP also reported on a couple from Philadelphia who had to get help digging out their car after they ended up in a median along I-195. “The falling snow was so blinding the couple didn’t realize they’d left the road at first,” the report said.

The experience of this couple apparently has been duplicated many, many times. It is clear that authorities in a large section of the state — but especially in our own area — have serious concerns that lives are in danger.

Part of the problem in opening the roads and rescuing the stranded is that even when plows are able to get through and clear a lane, the high wind blows snow right back onto the road.

At 12:20 PM today (Monday) the mayor told us she is receiving many calls from Ocean Grovers about plowing. “Right now,” she writes, “we have plows out on the main roads, but due to the high volume of EMS calls, we also have them accompanying ambulances. We still have stranded Township and Housing Authority plows, ambulances and police cars out in the snow that we are trying to retrieve. We have reached out to private contractors to supplement our plowing operations. We have also requested assistance from Monmouth County OEM for plowing but have not received help from them as of yet.

“Stranded motorists are being taken to a shelter at the Neptune Municipal Court until the Senior Center can be opened as a shelter. Approximately 40 people are taking shelter at the Court. We are having difficulty feeding these folks because all stores are closed. We have foodstuffs at the Senior Center; as soon as we can free up resources to pick up staff to open the Center, these motorists and others retrieved from stranded vehicles will be taken to the Center, where they can be fed and wait for the roads to clear so they can be picked up.

“This is a killer storm, folks. No stores are open; there is nowhere to go. I know everyone is anxious to get the streets clear — no one more so that I — but you need to, have to, MUST stay off the roads.”

She went on to say that such a large amount of snow “is not going to be removed quickly, especially when there’s vehicles abandoned in it. If you are not essential medical personnel, law enforcement, or a first responder, the state declaration of emergency requires you to stay off the roads. Walmart, Kohl’s Home Depot, and ShopRite are closed. I know some visitors just want to go home. Now is not the time. Do not put yourself in a position for bodily harm or death — just stay warm and cozy right where you are.

“Please be patient… Safety needs to be first and foremost on your mind. It is on ours.”

The mayor promised to keep us posted throughout the day.

Postscript: More than 8,000 New Jersey customers were without power Monday morning as a result of the storm, APP.com reported. It said 1,500  were residents of Monmouth and Ocean counties, and of those, 1,300 live in Monmouth Beach and Sea Bright.

Postscript: The Neptune Municipal Complex is closed today, and a Township Committee meeting that had been scheduled for Monday evening has been rescheduled for the evening of Thursday, December 30.

Postscript: The bus stranded in Monmouth County with 50 people has been freed. The passengers were en route to New York City from the Atlantic City casinos. The AP also reports that a second bus was stranded all night in the express lanes of the Garden State in Holmdel. The two buses were caught in a traffic jam that developed when a pregnant woman in a car went into labor. When her husband pulled the car to the side of the road, it created a log jam. An ambulance got through and took the woman to Bayshore Medical Center, but by then, says the AP, “the Parkway had become a parking lot.”

Postscript: Some places in northern New Jersey may have gottent as much snow as we did. Northjersey.com reports the following snowfall totals: Elizabeth, 31.8 inches; Clifton, 25 inches; Newark Liberty International Airport, 24.2 inches; Lyndhurst, 29 inches. Wrightstown, 19.2 inches; Ramsey, 18 inches.

Postscript: The mayor reported this morning that, for anyone thinking of taking NJ Transit trains or buses into New York City, North Jersey Coast Line service was suspended in both directions. NJ Transit rail service was subject to delays, she said, and bus service was suspended on all routes. We are not sure whether this situation has yet changed.

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