Storm Experience Teaches A Valuable Lesson
As daybreak began to reveal the extent of devastation from Hurricane Irene here in Northwestern Middlesex County, there were two things that drew my attention. First, the big mulberry tree that stood in the yard for years has been uprooted by the combination of age, storm rainfall, and high winds.
Second and most importantly, the flood on the end of my street is the worst it has been since the mid-1970s. The flood waters have reached my driveway, and the backyard is flooded. At the time of this report, we’ve had 4.83 inches of rain here in South Plainfield. The eye of Hurricane Irene is approaching as the pressure is down to 28.67 inches of Hg, or 971 millibars, which is a record for my weather station.
Unfortunately, we are on borrowed time, the power is out, we have no generator for backup power, the sum pump has failed, and the basement is starting to flood. Right now, we are in the process of having the gas shut off. This has been an alarming experience. I didn’t think that the flood waters would get this far up the street. In my entire lifetime, I never seen the neighborhood flood this bad. Not even during Hurricane Floyd when we got almost a foot of rain. It didn’t occur to me that this could be possible.
What distinguishes the situation between Floyd and Irene though is the fact that the latter came on the heels of one of the wettest months on record here in New Jersey. Prior to Irene’s arrival, there had been 10.30 inches of rain here in South Plainfield. So, the ground was plenty saturated. Now, with the storm surge from Irene raising the tide levels in Raritan Bay, water is going to back up into the Raritan River, which will compound the situation, especially for those living in Bound Brook and Manville.
Well, it is too late to do anything now. All that can be done is to wait and hope for the best. In preparing for future storms though, I will definitely make sure to carry this experience with me. Now, I have all the information that I have collected from this storm to use whenever any severe storm whether it is a hurricane or nor’easter threatens my area in the future to take better action, and be better prepared.
This has been a hard lesson, but a good one for me. Never take for granted that just because a hurricane is weakening, and doesn’t have enough wind that there still won’t be a problem. Take into account recent weather, and see how it has impacted your area, and how it will factor into a major event such as this hurricane. Rain and flooding from tropical systems can cause a great deal of damage, and inland flooding is now one of the leading causes of death.