Last night’s historic storm proved extremely challenging but Kearny’s Fire and Police Departments, EMT squad and Department of Public Works worked through the night in order to keep our community safe. The KFD performed over 15 water rescues without any reported injuries. The KPD worked against the clock and rising floodwaters to close roadways and divert traffic wherever possible before roads became impassable. This was the case when two power poles snapped at their base and fell on the Belleville Turnpike.
Kearny Public Works regularly checked the town’s storm water pumps and sanitary pump stations, all of which continued to work through the evening but could not keep up with the over 8 inches of rain that fell on Wednesday, a record volume of storm water. The heavy flow also resulted in main sewer lines surcharging from the treatment facility in Newark, resulting in backflow into many homes and flooding in areas that haven’t flooded in the past, such as the intersection of Kearny and Quincy Avenues, where KFD performed one of the water rescues.
The most harrowing event last night was the roof collapse at the postal distribution facility across from WaWa on Harrison Avenue. Over 300 employees were in the facility when it occurred. Seven employees were taken to the hospital; fortunately, none of them is critical. The KFD, KPD and EMT squad assisted with the evacuation and provided medical assistance. Of note, while some of the first responders were still inside the facility, the roof began to collapse again. Fortunately, all first responders got out in time and did not sustain any injuries.
As of this afternoon, most of Harrison Avenue east of the Turnpike entrance was still closed due to flooding and the Belleville Turnpike east of Schuyler Avenue remain closed until the fallen power poles can be safely removed. The full damage from the surcharging to sewer lines and catch basins throughout town is still being assessed.
Kearny’s Police and Fire Departments also coordinated with the State and County Offices of Emergency Management throughout the storm. As a result of these efforts, except for the postal facility collapse, there were no reported injuries.
Alberto G. Santos
September 2, 2021