Gloucester Township braves Winter Storm Quinn

Close to 70 homes were still without power the day following the March 7 nor’easter.

Winter Storm Quinn dropped about eight inches of snow on the Blackwood section of Gloucester Township. Veteran’s Park was quite and still as snow slowly melted from the grand gazebo.

Winter Storm Quinn battered the coast this week, leaving a clutter of fallen trees, tangled power lines and hundreds of South Jerseyans in the dark.

Fortunately, the March 7 nor’easter did not cause excessive damage in Gloucester Township, as only about 65 houses were still in the dark the next day, according to Mayor Dave Mayer.

These residents were mostly in the Timber Birch Development, which is in Gloucester Township’s PSE&G zone.

Throughout the day on Thursday, the township provided its Community Outreach Truck at Somerdale Road and Eaton Place, allowing people to charge phones, laptops and other devices.

Mayer says the brainchild behind the township’s community truck stemmed from a very severe wind storm about four years ago that left thousands without power.

“We roll this charging unit out into the neighborhood with our police, and folks are able to charge their phones,” Mayer said.

The Gloucester Township courtroom also stayed open until about 10 p.m. on Thursday evening, serving as a warming and charging station for those still without electricity. The senior center at the municipal building also served as a place of sanctuary.

Mayer says the township has been in constant communication with PSE&G, working to restore power in the Timber Birch area.

“We’re been consulting with them throughout the day,” Mayer said. “Everyone’s working to try to get the power back in our offices of emergency management.”

Mayer says public works operated smoothly during and after the storm, working to remove fallen trees and poles, which can cause road closures.

During the storm, between noon and 6 p.m., the Gloucester Township Police Department handled approximately 139 calls of service, including eight medical assists, 22 utility issues such as downed trees, wires and poles, and 54 motor vehicle assists, according to police reports. While vehicle assistance ranged from motor accidents to cars stuck in the snow, Mayer says nothing serious was reported.

“I do know it was a busy night in talking with the police,” Mayer said. “But, I’m not aware of any serious incidents, which can happen in that type of weather.”

Around 6 p.m. on the day of the storm, Church Street was closed between the Black Horse Pike and Erial Blenheim Road after a pole fell, according to police reports.

Often in these storms, public works partners with local fire departments to remove trees.

“For the most part, everything worked well,” Mayer said. “In any storm, you’re going to have challenges whether it’s wind or ice.”

The Blackwood section of Gloucester Township was hit with about eight inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service.

Conditions were clear enough by Thursday morning for schools to reopen, as Gloucester Township Public Schools had a two-hour delay on March 8 while neighboring districts had the day off due to massive, lingering power outages.

Mayer says the township communicates closely with the school district. Since the Gloucester Township Public Schools did not lose a full day due to the storm, students and staff will not have to tack on a makeup day in June.

“We work very closely with the school districts,” he said. “We coordinate with them, and make a judgment about what we’re seeing in the field. The police and public works are out there and see what’s happening, and so we relay that to our school superintendents.”

For future storms, Mayer encourages Gloucester Township residents to sign up for community notifications through Nixel, which keeps people informed on various local updates before, during and after the weather passes. He also says, if it’s possible, to move cars off the streets and into driveways, so plows can have easy access through streets. Above all, he advises folks to stay off the roads.

If the region sees yet another nor’easter this season, the township will continue its diligent management.

“Certainly, this was what we would classify as a major storm, and as such, we brought out not only public works but we have outside contractors to help,” Mayer said. “All in all, I was pleased with the response from our public works department.”