West Milford hit hard for second time in a week, 21 inches of snow Governor declares State of Emergency; West Milford Township closes for second day
Photo by Julie Tomaro
A snowy street in Greenwood Lake, N.Y., during Winter Storm Quinn.
BY ANN GENADER WEST MILFORD — Winter Storm Quinn, the second Nor’Easter to hit the area in a week, is seen by residents as being the most serious snow, damaging wind and deep snow happening in nearly 20 years. West Milford got as much as 21 inches of snow fall during the day-long event. Roads, Township meetings and West Milford schools were closed Wednesday and Thursday as a result of the storm. On March 6, Governor Phil Murphy declared New Jersey to be in a State of Emergency. Some people compared the storm and the misery it brought them to what they experienced a few years ago during the fall Hurricane Sandy. As of press deadline Thursday, March 8, Orange and Rockland Electric Company continued working to restore power to their remaining 7,500 customers still without power on March 8. Originally, 95,000 customers were without power from the two storms that hit the company’s service area in New Jersey. The outage map for West Milford is available on the company site. It shows most of the township customers served by this power company had electricity on Thursday morning. There were still about nine customers at Camelot without electricity. A dozen or so other power losses throughout the service area were single episodes caused by fallen trees and were being addressed by the company. About 20 customers in the Binnacle Ave., Stowaway Park area were still without service. The 247 customers in the Apshawa area without power on Wednesday had it restored Thursday. Updated information from the other two power companies serving other sections of the township were not available at press time. The first stormOn March 2, the first storm brought a mix of snow and rain arrived in the Township of West Milford. This was the beginning of a storm that brought strong gale force winds with it. As huge trees were uprooted they collided with utility poles and wires that were hung up on the damaged trees or tumbled to the ground. Devastation continued with power outages spreading throughout the municipality. The three power companies that serve the various parts of the Township of West Milford – Rockland Electric, New Jersey Power and Light and Jersey Central Power and Light Companies – were all affected during Winter Storm Riley, the first storm. By the time Winter Storm Riley was over, thousands of people throughout the township were without electric power — leaving those residents with no heat, water or light. The West Milford Office of Emergency Management announced there were numerous road closings and power outages with no time known when electric power would be restored. Jim Novack, a lifelong township resident, measured 16 inches of snow at his Mount Laurel home after the storm was over on Saturday, March 3. He said on March 6 that although a lot of the snow had melted there was still 4 to 5 inches hard-as-a-rock of snow still on the ground. The second storm paralyzes TownshipOn Thursday, March 8, after Winter Storm Quinn, Novack said, “I finally, made it down Route 23 but roads to Lincoln Park are closed and West Milford Taxi is now figuring out an alternate route. We are back on Route 202. Everything is a disaster here. It is even worse than West Milford. We had to go 10 miles per hour on Union Valley Road to get to Route 23. You’d need a tank to travel on Morris County Roads — even worse than Passaic County.” Novack is a former member of the township ADA committee. He needs a wheelchair to get around. Able to remain in his home during the latest storm events, Novack expressed concern that there is no official place available where a person with mobility challenges could stay overnight if a storm or other emergency forced them to leave their home. After the first storm, the township opened the library and recreation center buildings as warming shelters and charging stations. The Community Fire Company on Route 23 in Newfoundland also was opened for the same purposes. The showers at the high school were made available to people without electricity in their homes. JCP&L customers who were without power could get water and ice at the Acme store on Berkshire Valley Road in Oak Ridge or at the Acme store on Route 515 in Vernon. Union Valley, Gould Mountain and Weaver Roads, were closed after the first storm hit. They were not reopened until Tuesday, March 6 at 1:47 p.m. Germantown Road was reopened at 2:21 p.m. the same day. They were the last of the major arteries to reopen, although some side roads blocked by trees needed more work before they could reopen. Early during the storm some Route 23 traffic lights were not working. Rescheduling second weekBecause of Winter Storm Quinn, garbage and recycling collections were cancelled for Wednesday, March 7. A council budget meeting on March 6 and council workshop on March 7 were cancelled after the weather bureau announcement that a new storm was on the way. All scheduled programs at the Highlands Family Success Center were cancelled due to the storm. Many activities have been rescheduled in West Milford, so it is important to check with organizers about schedules. West Milford Police Department reported that all roads were open by 8 a.m. Thursday, though some were not entirely clear.