Newark Flooding -- 2007

by Jule Spohn


I'm sure that many of you suffered because of the nor'easter that hit us here in the New Jersey area yesterday. I had to work yesterday, and what a mess getting home.

When I left for brunch in Jersey City - at the Flamingo Restaurant - at Exchange Place around 12:30pm or so it was raining lightly here in Newark but by the time I reached Jersey City it was a downpour. I normally take the same route - Route 280 East heading toward Jersey City and it puts me right around the old Post Office buildings on the Newark/Jersey City Tpke and then head toward the 1 & 9 traffice circle at the Tonnele Circle, under the overpass, and then to the gas stations and into the Holland Tunnel. The traffic was very light going into the city at this time. Got to the hospital and parked in the rear parking lot.

The fun part was trying to get back home around 11:30pm. The hospital maintainance people were prepared for flooding in that area - 23rd Street and First Ave - just off the FDR Drive. Several years ago when we had a major rain storm the East River flooded over and our back parking lot got flooded and some of the cars back there were floating around the lot. They had sandbagged the back doors to the hospital and I had to walk all the way around the building, up the ramp, and into the front door of the building. Coming home, when I walked around the back to get into my car the back lot had already began flooding and I had to walk through about a foot or so of water to get into my car. Of course my shoes, socks, and pants were soaked by that time. Driving back to the Holland Tunnel was rough as the rain was coming down in buckets.

Got through the Holland Tunnel OK, but that's when the fun began. There is major construction going on right at that spot as you come out of the Holland Tunnel to enlarge and repair the roads and bridge ramps leading toward the Turnpike, 1&9, and the Pulaski Skyway. I made it back under the overpass and to the Tonnele Circle OK. Made it a little further and I noticed police car flashing lights as I headed toward the bridge and I saw that the area was flooded and that the traffic was backed up and police cars blocking the cars from going up the road leading toward the bridge and Post Office. I made a U-turn and headed back toward Jersey City and thought that I could get back onto the Pulaski Skyway from that point, but once again the road was blocked by police cars. I said, OK, I'll drive over to Rte 440 and take the back road - Raymond Blvd - route into Newark. Same thing, that road was blocked by police cars and I could see the flooding at that point.

I called my nephew who lives a little further down that road near 440 and Danforth Ave near the Society Hill turn off. When I got through to him he said he was not at home but that he was "trapped" in downtown Jersey City and couldn't make it to his apt and was staying with friends there. I asked him what my options where from that point. He told me to keep on 440 and head toward the Turnpike in Bayonne. I did so, but had to drive through several large puddles and at least twice I thought for sure I was going to get trapped in either one of them. Thank God the car made it but it seemed to be struggling a little bit. I had to test the brakes several times and at one point I almost didn't have any brakes and began slidding.

I was following a trailer truck and another car in front of me. We finally made it to the Turnpike entrance and were able to get onto it. Rain was pouring down unbelievably. I finally made it back to the Newark exit and headed toward the Rte 21 (McCarter Hwy) exit. At that point you take any of the three fartherst right lanes. Started coming down the ramp into Newark and there about 10 cars in front of me were stopped and were making a U-turn and coming back up the ramp because of flooding at the bottom of the ramp - this is a one-way stretch of the road. Thank God that the cars behind us saw what was happening and had slowed down also and had come to a stop. We made it up to the top of that ramp and were able to cross over into the other lane which puts the traffic onto Broad Street. At that point it was OK. It was only lightly raining and Broad Street was perfectly clear. Made it all the way home with no further problems and got there around 2am.

Downtown Newark and North Newark seemed to have had very little problems as compared to parts of Jersey City and Hoboken where block after block were flooded and many people had their basemets flooded. Newark got hit with 6.4 inches of rain and had winds up around 30 to 40 MPH. It was the worst storm here in the past 15 years. The Fire Dept had around 30 or so flood-related calls. At one point firefighters had to use an 8 foot boat to rescue a man who was trapped on the top of his car under the overpass at Frelinghuysen Ave and McClellen Street. Even though the heavy rain cancelled the "Cherry Blossom Run" in Branch Brook Park there were still a few hearty souls who ran anyway.

I called my nephew back and he said that he was now at his friend's house in downtown Jersey City and they were pumping water out of his basement.

Today was my usual day off and I just slept late and have been watching all of the mess on the TV. I'm certainly happy that I didn't have to try to go to work today.


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