Baby, It's Cold Outside …

January 3, 2014
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Despite a fair amount of snow overnight and into Friday morning, local officials are saying things are functioning smoothly and cleanup is continuing for the first storm of 2014.

“Sometimes its just a matter of timing with these storms,” said Middletown Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger early Friday afternoon.

Scharfenberger noted that the storm really didn’t kick in until many people were already home on Thursday evening, lessening traffic and the potential for accidents and injuries. Furthermore, Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency on Thursday, closing down much of state and local government for Friday, sparing many from having to fight the weather to get to work and schools made a relatively early
call for closing on Friday, which helped too, he said.

With enough heads-up, township public works employees and private contractors have been able to move forward with plowing early Friday, hitting all of the township’s330 miles of roadway at least once, and beginning to salt once snow was moved, he said.

Police told the mayor there were no reports of accidents related to the weather.

“I have to find some wood to knock on,” Scharfenberger said, “because things have been going really well.”

And,  there have been no angry phone calls to Town Hall. “Nobody screaming or yelling,” he said, “meaning everybody is kind of content to stay put, I think.”

One place in the area where there was a problem was in Monmouth Beach where a U.S. Postal Serivce truck was swamped by about 4-feet of water. The storm surge from the Shrewsbury River flooded streets in the borough. Emergency workers from both Monmouth Beach and Long Branch had to help rescue the mail carrier.

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While the snow fall is over, the falling temperatures are not. Frigid temperatures will continue tonight with the nighttime low of about 1 degree – without a wind chill. Temperatures on Saturday are expected to be in the high 20s or low 30s.

The weather gets warmer – and wetter – for Sunday and Monday with some rain and temperatures in the 40s. but those temperatures again will drop into the single digits and cold weather will stay for a few days later next week, according  to the National Weather Service.

In Sea Bright on Friday, public Wwrks employees were able to remove most of the snow pretty early and quickly, said Sea Bright Borough Councilman C. Read murphy who is also the borough Office of Emergency Management coordinator.

The town, as is usually the case, did have what Murphy called “moderate flooding,” on portions of Ocean Avenue and some side streets. But, the flooding is what the area would have for such a storm event and
clean up is proceeding, Murphy stressed.

Fair Haven Mayor Benjamin Lucarelli offered a similar take.

“We’re really lucky,” with a diligent Public Works team and police department things are proceeding as well as possible. “We’re well on our way to being cleaned up,” Lucarelli said.

It wasn’t entirely all-smooth sailing in Red Bank, Mayor Pasquale Menna said. Officials at the public works utility initially had hoped to be able to work on snow removal as well as do the regularly scheduled trash pick-up for the borough’s west side. “An extraordinary number” of employee call-outs with employees unable to get to work because of the weather meant the utility had to suspend trash carting to concentrate on snow removal, which went well, Menna said.

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“It’s just a perpetual problem,” he said of the absenteeism. The reason for it, Menna said, is that, unlike years past, now most employees live outside the community and traveling in bad weather poses a problem.

That may mean looking at other options long term, the mayor hinted.

“We may need to look at the Middletown model,” for trash removal, he said, meaning  awarding contracts to private firms.

The area officials noted that being prepared is the first and best step in addressing winter events. That’s also the case for private businesses, according to Daniel Levine, who owns and operates Little Silver Community Hardware.

“We try to order two or three days prior” to storms, hoping to obtain the big called-for items, Levine said.

Before the storm, he sticked up somewhat on shovels, ice-melting compounds and more firewood logs to accommodate customer demand. More was scheduled for delievery Friday afternoon.

“We try to be the neighborhood store and be here for when they need us,” as he has for 35 years, Levine said.

This storm, like others, reminded Menna of something else. “This is re-enforcing my desire to sell my house and move into a condo,” he said, as he continued to shovel his driveway and walkway.

Editor’s Note: THe two River Times’ Scott Longfield has been out all day photographing residents response to the storm. Be sure to see the Friday, Jan. 10 edition to see a gallery of what his lens captured.

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