Several Camden County communities are feeling the after effects of a weather systemthat flooded roadways, dropped tree branches, and disconnected household utility services.
By Matt Skoufalos | January 10, 2024
Hours after a major storm blew through South Jersey, municipalities across Camden County were reckoning with its impact, cleaning up flooded roadways and downed tree limbs, and restoring utility service to customers.
Meteorologist “Nor’Easter” Nick Pittman identified the storm as “a pressure-gradient-induced wind and rain storm,” driven by winds from the south and east
“We did have a couple different squall lines develop, but right over Camden County, they split,” Pittman said.
“One went north, one went south, and they reorganized in Atlantic County, where the strongest winds were found.”
The highest wind gusts were reported in Pennsauken, at about 62 mph, Pittman said; however, he expects that ground saturation from the heavy rainfall will be a persistent issue throughout the season.
“It’s going to be an active winter,” he said. “It’s an El Nino year, and we’re going to have active storms right through February. We’ve got another storm coming Friday.”
Flooding will remain a concern for the next day or so, Pittman said, owing to snowmelt and rainfall from Northwest New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which will eventually wind its way down tributaries into the Delaware River.
Heavy flooding detoured drivers along South Park Drive in Collingswood from around Center Street down past Browning Road.
Water had risen appreciably along the Haddon Township banks of the Cooper River as well, where picnic tables and statuary were submerged, with ducks and geese swimming about.
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Collingswood Fire Chief Geoff Joyce noted that the borough was also cleaning up a fallen utility pole in the 200 block of West Browning Road, as well as downed wires and tree limbs that had knocked out power in the 400 block of Sloan Avenue, and damaged a car there.
“There were no rescues, which was great,” Joyce said.
He urged drivers to respect traffic cones and caution tape placed in the roadway to avoid water hazards.
In Haddon Heights, a downed Verizon cable at Garden Street closed the White Horse Pike from Tuesday evening until late Wednesday afternoon.
Traffic was detoured as crews worked to restore service.
“We’ve had more than a couple trees snapped,” said Haddon Heights Public Works Director David Taraschi. “Guys worked some overtime last night on St. Martins Avenue; nothing too severe, but plenty of work.”
Around 10 a.m., fire companies from Haddonfield, Bellmawr, and Haddon Heights-Barrington responded to a small electrical fire in the unit block of Loucroft Avenue in Haddon Heights.
Haddon Heights-Barrington Fire Captain Ben Zwaska said the storm dropped a primary wire that electrified a cable, and backfed power into the system.
Wires became superheated and were melted in the incident, but no injuries were reported, and the damage was contained.
“We fared pretty well last night,” said Haddon Heights-Barrington Fire Chief Joseph Hales, who credited residents for heeding the advance notice of the storm and making efforts to prepare.
“Other storms that hit quickly without any notice, like Fourth of July, that’s where we see vehicles in the water and the flooding,” Hales said.
“The advanced notice definitely helped us.”
According to the PSEG Outage Center map, by early Wednesday evening, 685 customers were still without power across 52 remaining outages:
- Audubon – one outage affecting fewer than five customers
- Cherry Hill – 21 outages affecting 541 customers
- Collingswood – five outages affecting 10 customers
- Haddonfield – four outages affecting 52 customers
- Haddon Heights – three outages affecting 30 customers
- Haddon Twp. – four outages affecting eight customers
- Pennsauken – 14 outages affecting 39 customers
- No outages in Merchantville and Oaklyn
In a statement, PSEG reported that the majority of its customers whose power is out should have their service restored by Thursday morning.
PSEG Media Relations Officer Rebecca Mazzarella urged residents with power loss or flooding in their homes to contact their local utility providers (1-800-880-7734 (PSEG) or 911), especially if an odor of gas is present.
Flooding can interrupt utility service, as well as concealing unsafe conditions within a home or business, like submerged utility outlets or backflow into uncapped gas pipes.
“We have ample crews and resources for our flood restoration efforts, which require waiting for flood waters to recede before properly assessing properties,” Mazzarella said.
“We care about the safety of our customers and employees and will remain in the areas until work is complete.
“Flood victims can educate themselves on our process, which requires inspections before gas service can be turned back on, on our flood safety website,” she said.
By Wednesday evening, Camden County officials noted that flooding remains a persistent issue along major county roadways, including Admiral Wilson Boulevard in Camden City, River Road in Pennsauken, and North and South Park Drives. Likewise, Nicholson Road in Audubon remains closed from the intersection of Ward Avenue up to the Black Horse Pike.
“At the height of the storm the Camden County 911 call center took in almost 1,300 calls for service and assistance,” the county noted in a statement:
In the aftermath of the storm, more than 65 trees came down throughout the county, with almost half coming down on homes.
The county faced more than 26 incidents of downed wires combined with 15 blown transformers, and had three telephone poles come down throughout the night.
In addition, a tractor trailer blew off the Atlantic City Expressway in Winslow Township and there was an external structural collapse at the Royal Inn in Bellmawr, that was contained to the balconies.
Residents are urged to report problems on county roads to the Camden County Department of Public Works 24-hour hotline (856-566-2980).
In planning for future weather events, Pittman advised that residents should “find a trusted, local source, and be in tune with what’s going on.
“Just stay in tune,” he said.
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