Once synonymous with flooding, here’s how Bound Brook, NJ stood up to Ida
BOUND BROOK — His borough didn't come away from Ida completely unscathed, but Mayor Robert Fazen considers Bound Brook to be the poster child for storm preparedness when it comes to this month's storm, considering the damage in nearby towns, as well as the devastation caused in Bound Brook by storms in the past.
"We were ready," Fazen told New Jersey 101.5.
But it took decades' worth of that devastation to get the Somerset County borough to where it's at today.
Following the effects of Hurricane Floyd, a tropical storm by the time it hit New Jersey in 1999 and dropped 10 inches of rain on Bound Brook, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers embarked on a flood control project in and around the borough that would end up taking 15 years to complete.
Wrapped in 2016, the Green Brook Flood Control Project includes levees meant to block local bodies of water, including the Raritan River, from flowing into the borough, along with three flood gates, as well as pumping stations that can suck up rain that falls in the borough when necessary.
"Floyd — 15 feet of water on Main Street, up to the middle of the second floor. Compared to Ida — zero," said Fazen, a 40-year resident of Bound Brook.
That's a reasonable comparison, considering the Raritan River crested at essentially the same height during Floyd and Ida.
Homes and a business in the west end of town, however, did experience flooding due to the Sept. 1 weather event, Fazen noted. But that was a case of "bad luck," as Fazen describes it, because a train run by NJ Transit was forced by floodwaters and debris to stop in its tracks, right in the middle of a flood gate that had not yet been closed.
"The water just flowed over the tracks, right through where the train was and where the gate was not," Fazen said.
The water damage was recorded on Talmage and Wheatland Avenues.
According to NJ Transit spokesman Jim Smith, the train became surrounded by swift moving waters and debris at approximately 9:30 that night.
"Subsequently, a request was made by local officials to allow the flood gates to close, however, the train was unable to move due to the extreme flooding and debris," Smith said. "We had to wait for the flood waters to sufficiently recede in order to clear debris and perform the necessary safety inspections on the track infrastructure before sending equipment to the location of the disabled train to tow it from the scene."
New Jersey 101.5 reached out to Somerset County for clarification on the timing of its request to close the flood gate, but the county did not respond.
Flooding also occurred on the east end of the borough due to the backflow of wastewater service pipes, Fazen added. Two apartment complexes were evacuated and Billian-Legion Park was closed due to wastewater contamination.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at email@example.com.