The rising winds of Hurricane Sandy are beginning to leave their mark, township officials said during a 5 p.m. Monday conference call.
Police Chief Paul Kaminsky said personnel responded to several wires, trees and poles down during the later part of the afternoon.
The officials said the storm had so far produced no flooding, had generated only few power outages and few emergency situations. For the most part, said Kaminsky, residents heeded warnings and stayed home.
Jersey Central Power & Light reported 18 homes had power knocked out by mid-afternoon, and said Mayor Carl Suraci, a conference call with Public Service Electric & Gas Co. was to take place later Monday evening.
But, Kaminsky warned, “The worse is yet to come.”
Suraci said that the power companies would not have service crews operating if winds tops 40 mph. Operation of elevated buckets at that wind speed and above is dangerous. He cautioned that residents would need to exercise patience if they lose power during the high winds.
The National Weather Service said the storm center would enter New Jersey at approximately 8 p.m. Monday, and the wind speeds were expected to increase after that.
“From 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. is expected to be the worst,” he said.
The weather service estimated the storm could drop 3 to 4 inches of rain on the township, he said. Suraci said the township is operating under the state of emergency issued by Gov. Chris Christie.
A local emergency declaration could follow if conditions in the township warranted, he said. The township’s emergency shelter at the municipal complex is open, he said. Township Administrator Anthony Ferrara said local planning for the event began last Friday and continued through the weekend.
The municipal emergency management center is operating at the municipal complex even though the building is closed for regular business, said John Sheridan, the township’s director of emergency management. Municipal offices will be closed Tuesday for regular business, he said.
Owners of 150 homes which have been in the past threatened by flooding received evacuation notices in anticipation that their homes could again be flooded, Sheridan said. Ferrara said flood markers and barriers on streets known for flooding had been installed.
The township also received 100 extra cots and pillows, and a generator, from Somerset County, he said. Those items augment the township’s own supply of 50 cots and pillows, Sheridan said. The new items allowed the township to supply a back-up emergency shelter at the Wood Road fire station, he said.
School Superintendent Jorden Schiff said the district will be closed Tuesday, and a decision would be made then about Wednesday and the rest of the week.
“It is too early to tell,” Schiff said. He said depending on what happens Monday night, the district could remain closed Wednesday or hold a partial day of classes.
Kaminsky said the National Weather Service has predicted the Millstone River at Blackwell’s Mill could reach a minimal flood stage of 10 feet by 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Ferrara said residents can find updated storm information on the township’s website, Channel 29, and through the emergency news network that has 4,000 subscribers. The township’s radio station, 1610 AM, has been not working well, he said.