Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Roads, Bridges Remain Closed After Mudslides

Route 46 through Knowlton is expected to remain closed for most of this week and possibly beyond as crews continue to clear the highway of mudslides on Sunday morning.

Work to reopen the Route 46, as well as other roads in the township, has been hampered by high volumes of water continuing to cascade down hillsides and into rivers and streams. And more storms predicted for this week.

“Crews are working around the clock to remove debris and stem the flow of water,” said Knowlton Deputy Mayor Debra Shipps. “Until the water flow is reduced, they may be unable to complete the repairs. Current estimates are that the road will be closed for several days.”

More than five inches of rain—seven in some areas—fell during intense thunderstorms that rocked Warren County Saturday evening and Sunday morning, according to the National Weather Service. Pummeling the region in just a short amount of time resulted massive runoff that caused mudslides throughout Knowlton, White and Belvidere Sunday morning.

“The past few days have brought unprecedented rain totals to Warren County,” said Warren County Commissioner James R. Kern III, liaison for Public Safety. “Warren County Administration, OEM and DPW staff have been working around the clock with our local and state partners to identify storm damage and provide life-saving assistance for those in need,”

In Knowlton, roads that were closed include portions of Knowlton Road and Valley Street because of flooding while Ramseyburg Road and Hemlock Road were closed because of downed trees and wires.

In the meantime, Knowlton residents who have incurred damage from the storms are being asked to contact the municipal offices as soon as possible so a list can be compiled for an application for funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The number is (908) 496-4816. Those calling should leave their name, phone number and address.

Knowlton Fire and Emergency Co. No. 1 has been working with state and county officials is making its firehouse available as well as the township Office of Emergency Management to assist residents. The Knowlton firehouse is also being made available to residents needing emergency shelter. The firehouse is located at 4 Roy Ace Street, just off Route 46 in the Delaware section of Knowlton. It is north of the closed section of Route 46.

Jersey Central Power and Light said it has crews working around the clock to restore power. The utility is also making ice and water available at no charge for residents without power at the Acme supermarket in Blairstown, 152 Route 94.

Gov. Phil Murphy visited several locations of the landslides Monday morning in Belvidere, where he urged residents to photograph and list their damages and losses to the extent possible. He added that documentation will help with insurance claims and other aid that will be available.

“Small miracle. To the best of everyone’s knowledge no injuries and no fatalities thank God,’ Murphy said. “Incredible bravery and courage in these communities. We’re going to do everything we can.”

Murphy said he is assigning Dan Kelly, executive director of the Office of Recovery, to oversee applications for federal assistance.

In Blairstown, Police Chief Scott Petersen said there was only minor damage from the storms including some downed trees and power lines.

Joe Phalon
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.

Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.

Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.

Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.