Memories of Irene: Two Years Later

Share your memories of the first ‘100-year storm’ to hit our area in less than a century.

Hurricane Irene floods Morristown. Credit: John Dunphy
Hurricane Irene floods Morristown. Credit: John Dunphy
It is hard to believe that two years and several earth-shattering storms have passed since Hurricane Irene blew into the area and cut a swath of devastation through Morris County.

During the storm, the Watnong Brook turned from babbling waterway to a raging rapid and the Whippany River took the opportunity to explore several streets, businesses and homes. Hurricane Irene was not just another storm for the Morristown area.

At that time, I was working for Monmouth University in my first job out of a newsroom in a decade.

But as Irene approached, Long Valley Patch began preparing the locals for the storm with reminders of how Patch could work for them during a crisis. As the storm hit and my little house on the border of Morris Township and Randolph was plunged into chaos, the hyper-local sites that comprise Patch kept folks informed. They provided an outlet for aftermath accounts and photo galleries.

When the opportunity to launch Mendham-Chester Patch was presented to me, memories of Patch Irene coverage was one of the reasons I took the plunge and joined the team.

But my other memories of Irene were not so great.

When I bought my house back in 2006 I was assured there was no chance of flooding in the basement.

Those estimates did not take into account the "100 year storm" that was Hurricane Irene. After a prolonged period without power my basement was as flooded as nearly everyone else's. At the time, my daughter was six months old and in my house no power means no water so I was on the horn with my father pressuring him to head up to my house with a generator as soon as possible.

By the time he arrived, I was wading through the murky mix of sludge that was covering my basement with a mix of kitty litter and all the dirt and debris that goes along with an unfinished basement.

Once the generator was firmly in place, it was simply a matter of switching on the sump pump and waiting for the viscous fluid to drain.

That would have happened if the sump pump was hooked up correctly.

This sump pump is a replacement of the one that came with my house (and actually caught fire when I tried to use it when my water heater exploded) and I had hooked it up myself.

Unfortunately, the little valve that stops the water from running back down the pipe after the pump is turned off was on backwards. Meaning that when the pump pushed the water up into the pipe, the valve closed, and the sludge came had nowhere to go.

So after a few seconds, the pipe blew off the pump and a jet of basement soup sprayed back into my face.

The shock of the cold much had me gasping in surprise and before I knew it, I was choking on a gritty mouthful of the stuff.

So my memories of Hurricane Irene boil down to my first experience with Patch, and wretching all over myself in the basement.

How about you? What sticks out in your mind when you think of Hurricane Irene? Answer in the comments below


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