By Chris Lundy and Kimberly Bosco
JERSEY SHORE – Local towns were blasted by heavy snow which closed roads and schools and caused at least one fatality.
The storm spread sleet, rain, snow, or some combination of them all throughout Tuesday. It took until Thursday for people to dig out. By then, the damage had been done.
Patrick O’Hara, a meteorologist with the U.S. National Weather Service Philadelphia/Mount Holly said that “normal” temperatures for Monmouth and Ocean counties is in the low 50s this time of year.
The northeast has been plagued with troughs—a meteorological term for areas of low atmospheric pressure—that traps cold air from Canada and moisture from the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico and amplifies and intensifies any disturbance, this time creating a nor’easter. The region has suffered four nor’easters in three weeks.
Berkeley Township had the dubious distinction of being Number 1 in the area for snow accumulation. According to a televised weather report, snow in Bayville clocked in at 13.5 inches. It was also Number 1 during a Jan. 5 snowstorm.
Dealing with this much wet, heavy snow was challenging, Mayor Carmen Amato said.
“As I always say, with 271 miles of roadways and 300 culs-de-sac, it takes 24 hours for Public Works and our contractors to reach all streets,” he said. Downed trees slow down plowing operations as well.
Jersey Central Power & Light was on site in town to respond to outages, he said. The parks department responded to more than 50 trees in the roadways. The volunteer fire companies ran throughout the night responding to calls.
The final cost of the storm is yet unknown until the township gets billed by contractors, he said.
Normally, towns set aside a budget for snow removal, but Berkeley is expected to use the budget up from the winter. Therefore, some of the cost of this storm will have to be raised in the 2018 budget.
He thanked the employees as well as the volunteers for all their dedication.
“Their work does not go unnoticed. We appreciate each and every one of them,” he said.
The Beachwood Fire Department reported that the volunteer crew was going nonstop for more than 36 hours with snow related calls. Wires and trees were down throughout the area. They were urging residents not to go near any fallen or low hanging wires for fear of them being live.
They also responded to a crash requiring extrication on Double Trouble Road. The crew thanked Pinewald Fire, Beachwood police and EMS, Bayville and South Toms River EMS, Mon-Oc paramedics, and an unnamed “off-duty” Manitou Park firefighter for their help at the crash.
Manchester Township Police officials said that the excess of heavy, wet snow and winds caused numerous power lines and tree limbs to fall, causing damage in areas of the town and leaving nearly 1,600 residents without power.
Various efforts were made by officials to mend the damages and keep residents safe during the storm.
The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) put together a warming station at the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Department for those without power, where volunteers are helping residents and providing warm beverages and snacks.
Manchester police was also responding to reports of dangerous or downed power lines and closing down hazardous roads, such as the 1300 block of Broadway Boulevard in Pine Lake Park. The front of this residence was torn off by downed power lines.
Storm Proves Fatal
Storms of this nature are usually more dangerous for those who already have serious medical ailments. In this case, it was an 87-year-old Toms River woman who suffered from dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Her family last saw her at midnight on the night of March 21. She had been home at the Oak Grove Mobile Home Park. At 4:30 a.m. on March 22, she was reported missing. After a search by police officers, East Dover Fire and EMS personnel, and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department K-9 Division, she was found at 6:20 a.m., deceased in the snow about a mile away.
She wasn’t the only one who was affected. A homeless man living at a camp in the woods was injured when a large tree came down on the night of March 21, Toms River police reported.
Ryan Payne, 40, was trying to get shelter during the snow storm Wednesday night when the tree came down, police said. He was alert and conscious upon police arrival.
He had been living at the camp site, west of the Toms River Park and Ride, for about four months, according to another camper. Three other homeless people were transported to Haven “Beat the Streets” warming center located at the First Assembly of God Church on Bay Avenue.
– Jennifer Peacock contributed to this story