Irene 'Almost Just Another Storm' for Kinnelon OEM
One year later, OEM coordinators remember how the communities came together during tropical storm event.
Kinnelon Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Coordinator Harry Hicks said the Borough of Kinnelon was prepared for Tropical Storm Irene. The borough is prepared for any storm.
As such, he said Irene, which flooded out many streets in nearby Bloomingdale, Lincoln Park and Pequannock, was "almost just another storm" for his team.
One year ago this week, the tropical storm that followed Hurricane Irene hit the tri-boro. The storm had little impact on Kinnelon, with the exception of several residents, particularly in Smoke Rise, losing power and two road collapses: one on Kinnelon Road and another on Forge Road.
The Borough of Butler did not see the same extent of damage as its neighbors. Several roads were closed and many residents were without power for hours, but only four residents utilized the shelter that was set up at the Carey Avenue firehouse. In Bloomingdale, 22 residents utilized the shelter established at the Walter T. Bergen School.
Bloomingdale is still working to recover from flood damage, especially on Main Street, where Sloan Park, which was still damaged from flooding several months prior, was washed out once again. Sloan Park has not yet been fully repaired.
Bloomingdale also bonded $1.8 million for flood mitigation projects throughout the borough, with about $1.6 million dedicated to projects near or relating to recreation properties.
Former OEM Coordinator Pete Croop described Irene as "a difficult time." But he said Bloomingdale was actually fairly lucky when it came to dealing with the aftermath.
"Like most towns, we had a plan. We were able to stay within our plan and we had enough resources to survive," he said.
In areas near Van Dam Avenue and Brandt Lane, many homes had to be evacuated. The then-Bloomingdale Regional Animal Shelter Society shelter on Brandt Lane also had to be evacuated. Basements were flooded and homes were damaged, but Croop said neighboring communities still had it worse.
"While we certainly had some inconveniences with street flooding and basement flooding, compared to people in Pompton Lakes, we were very, very lucky," Croop said.
But luck was not all of it.
"There's a good crew here to handle emergencies. We always got along great, the police department, the fire department, the DPW," Croop said. "Any time we ever had a big incident, we've always managed to work hand-in-hand."
Hicks gave credit to the county agencies that he said worked to support the local needs, as well as Butler Power & Light, whose employees worked for days to restore power to those in need. In Kinnelon, Hicks said several departments worked together to get through the event as well.
"DPW's John Whitehead and Jenn Highers handled it as if it were 'part of the job,'" Hicks said. "Kinnelon's Health Department (Gail Flammer) kept in touch with those who might encounter more than 'inconveniences.' [The Kinnelon Police Department and John Finkle and Kinnelon Volunteer Fire Co. (KVFC) chiefs were out on the roads from start to finish. KVFC chiefs make sure anticipated events are covered through weekly drills. Adam Barish, deputy OEM coordinator, and the [Certified Emergency Rescue] Team, under his supervision, had shelter facilities on standby."
Hicks also said Kinnelon residents came together during the event to help each another.
"Living in the country, it's great to have neighbors looking out for neighbors," he said.