Update, 10:45 p.m., Oct. 31:
The following announcements were just made by Lawrence Township Public Schools:
School Closure Make-Up Days
With schools being closed on Nov. 1, the district has exceeded the three days it built into the school calendar for emergency purposes. Watch for more info about make-up days.
Governor Postpones Halloween
Gov. Christie postponed Halloween until Monday, Nov. 5.
LIMBO Cancels Yard Sale
Due to Hurricane Sandy and the uncertainty of when power will be fully restored to Lawrence Township, the LIMBO Yard Sale scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 3, has been cancelled. The yard sale will be rescheduled for sometime in the spring. LIMBO wishes the residents of Lawrence Township a speedy and safe recovery!
The next LIMBO meeting will be Monday, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m. Directly following the meeting, they will discuss music program trips for the current school year as well as for next year. The music teachers will share their ideas and LIMBO is also looking for input from music parents and students.
Update, 7 p.m., Oct. 31:
According to Mercer County spokeswoman Julie Willmot, "Mercer County is deploying 25 cots and blankets to Lawrence High School, where a shelter is being established."
PSE&G provided the following update:
"With current estimates now indicating that the number of customers impacted by Hurricane Sandy is 1.7 million, PSE&G has restored electricity to about 818,000 customers. At this time, about 882,000 customers are without power. The peak number has jumped as the utility continued with its assessments and additional customers reported that their service was impacted.
"Our best forecast as of now is that we will have virtually all of our impacted customers restored to service within the next seven to 10 days. There may still be isolated pockets of customers who have individual flooding or downed line issues that may take slightly longer."
Original story, 5:58 p.m., Oct. 31:
Mandatory evacuations began this morning (Wednesday, Oct. 31) and are still underway at several multi-floor age-restricted apartment and condominium buildings in Lawrence Township because of concerns over the safety of residents.
The loss of electrical service to the buildings caused by Hurricane Sandy has left residents in the dark and without heat. In many cases fire alarm systems and emergency exit and hallway lights are out, their backup batteries long exhausted.
In one of the locations, a cracked fire sprinkler pipe flooded the building’s utility room and left the building’s fire suppression system inoperable, according to emergency officials.
Several hundred people are affected by the evacuation order, however the loss of power had already prompted many of the buildings’ occupants to leave their apartments or condos before today and temporarily relocate with family or friends. With elevators not working, many residents who have difficulty walking or have medical conditions that make it difficult for them to get around are being carried down stairs from the upper floors by Lawrence, Ewing and Plainsboro firefighters.
Those being evacuated today are being taken to the Lawrence Senior Center or Lawrence High School until they can make their own arrangements to stay elsewhere or alternate arrangements can be made by management of the respective buildings in cooperation with township and county emergency management officials.
Yesterday, township officials announced that both locations would be open today as “comfort stations” – not rescue shelters – to provide residents warm places to charge their electronic devices and access WiFi, with the high school also opening its showing facilities to the public.
Lawrence Township Board of Education President Laura Waters said this afternoon that the high school’s commons area and library were packed with residents taking advantage of those services. She said movies were being shown for children in the school’s auditorium and refreshments and finger foods like chicken nuggets were available.
She said the same services would be offered at the school again tomorrow, beginning at 7 a.m. With power still out at Ben Franklin, Lawrenceville and Slackwood elementary schools, the district this afternoon announced that all township public schools will be closed Thursday for students and staff, as they have been all week thanks to Hurricane Sandy.
According to posts on Facebook, the Lawrence Community Center on Eggerts Crossing Road is open and providing the public with WiFi connectivity and 20 computers with Internet access, while Gold’s Gym on Quakerbridge Road is allowing area residents free use of its exercise equipment, showers, and electricity, and offering food donated by Just Subs.
This afternoon, township officials announced that, “to coincide with Gov. Christie's executive order, Halloween celebrations have now been postponed until Monday, Nov. 5.”
PSE&G utility personnel have been working to restore service to the township, and power has returned to some areas. Utility workers from other states have come to New Jersey to help PSE&G with restoration efforts. As of noon today, PSE&G said that power had been restored to 30 percent of the 1.5 million customers who lost electricity as a result of Hurricane Sandy. At 4:30 p.m. today, PSE&G’s power outage map still showed that between 5,001 and 10,000 customers in Lawrence were still in the dark.
Dozens of utility trucks from Ameren Energy Co. of Illinois, having traveled over 20 hours to get here, were assembled at a staging area this morning in the parking lot of Quaker Bridge Mall. The mall remained closed today.
Township public works crews have also been hard at work clearing fallen trees from roadways. In many situations, township crews cleared trees from state roadways because state crews were unavailable. This was the case on Route 206 (Lawrence Road) where township workers cut up and removed several trees to reopen the stretch of road between Lawrence Avenue and Eggerts Crossing Road. Route 206 was still reported to be closed in the area of Craven Lane, however.
Private contractors, meanwhile, were busy today clearing fallen trees from private property. On Gainsboro Road, nine large trees fell in one yard, but luckily missed the house. The property owner the previous owner had planted the trees in 1956.
Most business in the township remained without power today. Among those that were observed to be open – some powered by emergency generators – were Acme at Lawrence Shopping Center; ShopRite at Mercer Mall; Fedelo’s Pizza and Lucky 7 Deli on Route 206; and the McDonald’s at the Brunswick Circle.
Traffic lights along Route 1 were still without power today and barricades remained in place to prevent motorists from trying to make turns across oncoming traffic. As a result, motorists needing to access the opposite side of the highway must use the Brunswick Circle, Interstate 95/295, the Kelly Viaduct at Quaker Bridge Mall or Quakerbridge Road to make a U-turn.
Personnel from the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office and the county sheriff’s office were helping direct traffic in town today.
With Lawrence Township’s career and volunteer firefighters committed to evacuating people from the various apartment and condominium buildings, volunteer firefighters from Hopewell Township (Titusville) and Falls Township, Pa., have relocated with their trucks to the Lawrence Road firehouse and have been answering emergency calls throughout the township today.
Lawrence Township police, meanwhile, have also continued to answer a variety of emergency calls throughout the township. This morning, officers arrested two suspects – one a juvenile, the other an adult – minutes after they allegedly broke into a car on Graf Avenue, police confirmed.
Rider University today announced that all day and evening classes and events are cancelled and offices on both Rider main campus in Lawrence Township and its Westminster campus in Princeton are closed through Sunday, Nov. 4.
Notre Dame High School, meanwhile, announced that school and other events are cancelled for tomorrow and the Senior Halloween Costume Day will be held Friday, Nov. 2.
Previous Mercer County-Specific Hurricane Sandy Coverage:
- Oct. 30: "Storm Cleanup Effort Underway in Lawrence Township"
- Oct. 30: "Photo Gallery: Lawrence Township & Hurricane Sandy"
- Oct. 30: "Lawrence Township: What's Going On With Sandy?"
- Oct. 30: "Princeton Man Dies During Hurricane Sandy"
- Oct. 29: ""
- Oct. 29: "Mercer County Residents Urged to 'Shelter in Place'"
- Oct. 28: “Mercer County Braces for Storm”
- Oct. 28: “No Unauthorized Travel Allowed After 6 Tonight as Lawrence Township Declares State of Emergency”
- Oct. 28: “
- Oct. 27: “Lawrence Township Braces for Hurricane Sandy”
- Oct. 27: “Princeton Prepares for Hurricane Sandy”
- Oct. 27: “'Limited' State of Emergency Declared in Mercer County”
- Oct. 27: “Area Municipalities Prepare For Sandy”
- Oct. 26: “Mercer County Mobilizes Resources in Advance of Sandy”
- Oct. 26: “County Executive Urges Residents to Prepare for Sandy”