Community Pulls Together After Flood

Residents of Greenbriar I brought tons of ruined belongings out to the curb. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

BRICK – Two months of rain fell in two and a half hours in parts of the township on Monday, August 13, which caused severe flooding in the northern section of town, including Paramount Way, New York Avenue, Sutton Village, Primrose Lane and Greenbriar 1, where 114 homes were flooded.

“It was unexpected,” said Mayor John G. Ducey during the August 14 council meeting. “Obviously, we knew that thunderstorms were coming, but we didn’t know how bad they were going to be or how much water there was going to be.”

The water was eight feet deep in sections of Greenbriar, obscuring street signs, Ducey said. Boats went out to pick up people at their front doors who were coming out with their pets, medicine, and anything else they could carry, he said.

Residents of Greenbriar I brought tons of ruined belongings out to the curb. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

Greenbriar 1 is an adult community, and most of the estimated 55 to 60 people were evacuated by boat appeared to be in their 70s, the mayor said.

“That’s the only way they could be rescued – trucks couldn’t make it down those roads,” he said. Surrounding towns also helped out with the evacuations, including the Point Boro Fire Department and EMS.

The amount of water in the affected homes at Greenbriar ranged from a couple of inches to water as high as kitchen counters, Ducey said. The homes that flooded were in the westernmost section that backs up to Burrsville Road.

The evacuated residents were brought to the Greenbriar Clubhouse where they were greeted by the Red Cross and Greenbriar trustees, Ducey said.

A township EMS officer was at the clubhouse and went around to each person to get their name, address, and to find out if they needed any of their medication from their homes, which the EMS retrieved from their evacuated homes.

The Greenbriar Community Center sheltered five people after the storm, and the Red Cross was going to provide accommodations for anyone who needed them after the first night, the mayor said.

Jersey Central Power and Light cut the power to the 114 homes, and on the day after the storm, the township building inspector and a JCP&L representative went door-to-door and inspected each house.

Residents of Greenbriar I brought tons of ruined belongings out to the curb. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

There were 21 homes that were flooded where the electrical panel was touched by water, so the power company had to pull those meters. Fifty-five of the homes had their power restored, and 38 of the homes had no one home so they were not inspected, the mayor said.

After the flood, volunteers from Lowe’s came with donated equipment, such as shovels and gloves, and the employees helped residents pull waterlogged furniture and appliances from their homes, Ducey said.

Wawa donated food and an estimated 30 to 40 Brick High School football players came to help clear the debris, as did the township Department of Public Works and numerous other volunteers.

“There were great things that happened from the community, from our police department, fire, EMS, our CERT team,” Ducey said. “There was a lot of action going on for sure. It’s been a community effort, like a small [Superstorm] Sandy,” he said.

Greenbriar has never flooded before, and the area is not in a flood plain.

Photo courtesy Brick Township Police Department

“This was a different kind of storm. What caused it, we don’t know,” Ducey said.

There was a rumor that the Municipal Utilities Authority pump station on Burrsville Road was offline because it, too flooded, but that had nothing to do with the flood in Greenbriar since they were using temporary pumps, the mayor said.

State Senator Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen David Wolfe and Gregory McGuckin penned a letter to State Department of Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti asking for an investigation into the recent $21 million Garden State Parkway reconfiguration to see if it made the adjacent area of Greenbriar susceptible to flooding.

“The county engineer is looking at it and so is our Brick engineer to try and make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Ducey said.

“Is it because we had two months of rain in two and a half hours, or is it something that can be controlled so we won’t have to worry about it in the future?” he asked. “We’ll all get through this together.”

The next council meeting will be on Tuesday, Aug. 28 at 7 p.m.