In the interests of safety and erring on the side of caution in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, with electrical service knocked out to the majority of the township and numerous fallen trees and power lines blocking roads and sidewalks, Lawrence Township residents are strongly being urged to postpone tomorrow’s (Wednesday, Oct. 31) traditional Halloween festivities.
“Due to the unsafe conditions that may exist in different neighborhoods from the effects of the storm, Lawrence Township residents are asked to postpone all trick-or-treating until Saturday (Nov. 3),” Township Manager Richard Krawczun said this evening. “It will give us a couple more days to get some of these areas cleaned up.”
Krawczun said he plans to ask school officials to encourage their students and parents to honor the township’s request.
Lawrence Township public schools will be closed for all students and staff tomorrow, the district announced this afternoon.
Notre Dame High School, Saint Ann School, Rider University, and Mercer County Community College also announced they will be closed Wednesday. Notre Dame’s Senior Halloween Costume Day has been rescheduled for Friday, Nov. 2. Rider’s Fall Career Fair, originally planned for Thursday, Nov. 1, has been postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date.
Lawrence Township offices – closed Monday and today because of the storm – will reopen tomorrow morning, according to Krawczun, who noted that power was restored to the municipal complex around 3 p.m. today.
The municipal state of emergency declared by Mayor Jim Kownacki at 6 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 28) will remain in effect until 6 a.m. tomorrow. Restrictions previously placed upon travel on township roads by non-emergency and unauthorized personnel as part of that emergency declaration will be lifted at that time, according to Krawczun.
While there are no “rescue shelters” in operation in Lawrence Township, the Lawrence Senior Center on East Darrah Lane will be available as a “comfort station” from 8:30 a.m. until 11 p.m. tomorrow to provide “a warm place with WiFi access and charging capability for electronic devices,” according to the latest storm advisory posted on the township website.
Residents in need of showering facilities will be permitted to use the locker rooms at Lawrence High School on Wednesday. The school’s commons area will also be open tomorrow to provide residents access to WiFi and allow them to charge their electronic devices. The school will open at 7 a.m. tomorrow for those services.
Wednesday’s regularly-rescheduled trash collection will take place as normal tomorrow.
While a 61-year-old man was killed when a tree fell on him in his driveway in Princeton Township Monday night, Krawczun said he was not aware of any storm-related injuries in Lawrence Township.
“We were very fortunate to have less rain from the storm. That, in turn, reduced flooding events,” Krawczun said this evening. “The extent of power outages has risen to a level of serious concern. PSE&G at this moment is reporting 10,000 customers in Lawrence Township not having electricity. That is a situation we are continuously monitoring.”
While the township is doing what it can to expedite the restoration of power in Lawrence Township, it is important to keep in mind that the hurricane caused extensive damage throughout the region – not just to the township – so PSE&G’s repair resources are spread throughout the state, Krawczun said.
“We have an extensive amount of trees down,” he said. Emergency management officials had received reports of at least 57 different trees blocking roadways in the township in some way or another.
Among the roads that were still blocked by down trees as of early this evening were the sections of Route 206 (Lawrence Road) between Lawrence Avenue and Forrest Avenue, between Berwyn Place and Eggerts Crossing Road, and between Franklin Corner Road and Gordon Avenue.
Most of the traffic lights along Route 1 in Lawrence Township, meanwhile, were without power. Barricades have been erected to prevent motorists from attempting to make turns across oncoming traffic at these intersections.
The job clearing a fallen tree from a roadway falls to the government entity – township, county or state – that is responsible for that particular roadway. Complicating the situation is that fact that if wires are tangled with the downed tree, no cleanup effort can begin until PSE&G personnel have confirmed that those wires are no longer energized with electricity.
As a result, it is currently not known when specific roadways will be reopened.
In addition to that, as of this afternoon there had been 16 reports of structures – mostly homes – having been damaged by fallen trees, Krawczun said, but he noted that there may be even more that had not yet been reported to the township.
He said residents with questions related to structural damage to their homes caused by the hurricane should contact the Lawrence Township Construction Office by calling (609) 844-7056 after 8:30 a.m. tomorrow.
Township police, firefighters and ambulance personnel have been busy handling emergency calls ever since the storm began. Shortly before 7 o’clock this evening, volunteer firefighters from all three township fire companies responded, along with police officers, to a small fire in a home on Berwyn Place that was caused, fire officials said, by residents trying to overcome the power outage by cooking lamb meat over more than two dozen tealight-style candles arranged on a plate.
Monday’s postponed trash pickup has been rescheduled for Thursday, Nov. 1. Monday’s postponed township-wide recycling collection will now take place Sunday morning, Nov. 4. Today’s cancelled trash collection, meanwhile, will not be made up; that zone’s next trash collection will happen next Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Because of the large numbers of whole trees and large limbs toppled by Hurricane Sandy, regular municipal leaf collection will be suspended and pickup of brush/yard debris will resume beginning Monday, Nov. 5. Debris should be placed at the curb in accordance with township rules and regulations. Debris will be collected from each street once during the week.
Previous Mercer County-Specific Hurricane Sandy Coverage:
- 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”