New Jersey cleans up from downed trees, facade collapse, and power outages

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, April 5, 2024
New Jersey cleans up from downed trees, facade collapse, and power outages
Sonia Rincon has more from Bogota, where a large tree crashed into homes.

NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- It was wild and dangerous Wednesday night as strong storms moved through New Jersey, bringing down trees and causing power outages in addition to flooding in some parts.

In Bogota, a huge oak tree was being cut into pieces and carried away, after falling onto two homes on Oakwood Avenue, briefly trapping a woman upstairs in one of them.

"She heard a big crunch and she rolled to the floor and rolled to the door and was actually stuck in the house," said Debra Cianfrone of Kodiak Tree Experts. "The rescue squad had to rescue her out of there."

Fortunately, there were no injuries, but it's one of the biggest tree messes the local tree company, Kodiak Tree Experts, has ever had to deal with.

"You can see right through the house. It went to the bottom floor from the top," Cianfrone said of the roughly 100-year-old oak tree that measured 70 inches in diameter.

Neighbors looked at it from their yards, seeing the rotting roots that lifted right out of the ground, flipping a shed onto a yard next door.

"It was a heck of a crash, you just heard it and it sounded like it could have been the wind because the wind was blowing so hard, it was hard to differentiate," neighbor Bob Schmelter said.

Meanwhile on Thursday, a middle school in Leonia was forced to close because the damage was so bad.

There were at least four downed utility poles and a downed tree near Broad and Magnolia, which forced officials to close the school.

Crystal Cranmore has more on storm damage in Leonia, New Jersey.

The police chief there says the biggest concern during the storm was wind damage, not flooding, so evacuations weren't necessary.

While the damage in the area was extensive, residents told Eyewitness News there were just thankful to be OK.

Thomas Kwok and his wife were in the living room watching TV when the storm uprooted a tree and knocked down several power lines. They just bought the home in 2021.

"At the end of the day we're safe, that's all the matters, the roof is replaceable... at least we're safe," Kwok said.

Drone footage from the Leonia Police Department captured the trail of destruction the storm left behind. As cleanup efforts continue, Leonia Middle School officials said it will be open on Friday.

Meanwhile in North Bergen, a facade collapsed on Grand Avenue near 10th Street and the residents of the building were also impacted by a power outage in the cold weather.

Renters in the building said it was around 10 p.m. when they heard the wind roar.

"We heard a crack and noise like there was a crash outside. The first time it seemed like it was in two processes like in two steps, we heard the first noise and then the second one was stronger," said Geofredo Hernandez, building resident. "It was a terrifying night. The neighbor was outside at like 3 a.m., she was asking the police if everything was okay."

The bricks fell on at least three vehicles, totaling them. No one was injured.

WATCH | Building facade collapses due to weather in North Bergen:

Reagan Medgie reports on the facade collapse, flooding issues, and power outages in New Jersey.

A large tree in Rochelle Park was no match for the unrelenting wind and rain that ripped it out of the ground. Its branches dragged down power lines, causing residents on Hazley Avenue to lose power.

In Jersey City, you could barely see the streets, which were flooded by the buckets of water that mother nature dropped.

In Lodi, the Saddle River rose by the hour, which came as no surprise to nearby communities, which has seen the river saturated by a number of storms. It's already been flooded several times this year.

It's once again gradually rising as the area has gotten pummeled with days of rain and wind. Puddles formed at the mouth of a nearby parking lot that practically kisses the river.

The people who live in a nearby apartment complex have become well accustomed to the inconvenience of flooding.

One woman said she's lost two cars to the Saddle River, one of them brand new.

"It's happening here, it's happening with the Passaic River, I have friends in Wayne who are living under water for weeks on end," said Ashley Nicholas, a Lodi resident.

Just two weeks ago, during another flooding event, Mayor Scott Luna blamed the flooding on Main Street on two outfall pipes four feet under the river that are not properly working.

The mayor says he needs help from Department of Environmental Protection to get those pipes cleared, otherwise storm drains continue to back up during heavy rain storms.

Residents say the parking lot flooded during the last storm two weeks ago.

"It's just a bunch of people over and over and over again that they're losing all of their belongs, having to restart. This is the time where being poor costs you more than anything because you cannot relocate. It costs us $3,000 to get into another apartment. It's very, very difficult. And unless they do something about that river which as been flooding since like the '70s? It should be dredged at this point, I mean, seriously. We have enough money as a whole in New Jersey, we've gotten enough FEMA assistance, why are the waterways not being taken care of," Nicholas said.


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