County Officials Hoping Worst of Irene is Over
Major concern of county-wide flooding remains.
Irene powered through Essex County in the early morning hours Sunday, leaving fallen trees and flooded streets in its wake. Though the winds may have died down, prompting its downgrade to a tropical storm, county officials are saying this morning a long clean-up effort could be on the horizon as area rivers breach their banks, which could cause widespread flooding in the county.
"We need it to stop raining. We need people to stay in their houses," said Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr..
DiVincenzo told Patch this morning that power at the command center and shelter at Codey Arena in West Orange -- which had been used as an emergency shelter for stranded county residents -- briefly lost power this morning, but was quickly brought back online by generators.
DiVincenzo says a number of trees have fallen, and a number of county roads are flooding, causing headaches for county workers struggling to keep roads clear.
County roads have been closed down in Belleville, Roseland, Newark and West Orange. DiVincenzo says the towns that were the hardest hit include Belleville, Newark and Fairfield. In Belleville, some residents needed to be rescued from Fairway Avenue around 3 a.m.
Millburn, which was hit with severe flooding, has asked for assistance from the National Guard if a full-scale evacuation of the area becomes necessary.
In West Orange, Northfield Avenue was temporarily closed down when heavy rains flooded it in the middle of the night.
DiVincenzo said despite the apparent calm after the storm that has fallen over the county, the clean-up efforts will be extensive, and warned that people living near the Passaic River "are going to suffer more."
"This is going to go on for a while. There's a lot of clean-up that is doing to be done."
Striking an optimistic chord, DiVincenzo says he hopes the worst is over.
"They're saying it should be over by 10 or 11 o'clock. By the afternoon, the sun should come out."
West Orange Patch Editor Karen Yi contributed to this report.