Thousands of residents may be without power now that Hurricane Irene has struck Howell Township.
As of 12 a.m. Deputy Mayor William Gotto who was working at the township's Emergency Operations Center said approximately 150 to 200 calls had come in regarding wires down, flooding and other storm related issues. More serious matters were being handled directly through the township's emergency services and their dispatchers.
In addition to the six call takers Gotto said there are currently 10 to 15 representatives from the Office of Emergency Management handling calls on the road as well as crews from the Department of Public Works. Whle the storm still has a way to go before it reaches New Jersey, Gotto said calls are being responded to in around five minutes from the time they come in.
Major issues on the roads are coming from various parts of town including Squankum Yellowbrook Road, Adelphia Road, Herbertsville Road and Newtons Corner Road. Motorists should avoide those areas if at all possible at this time. Although there are other trouble spots, Gotto said those are the ones that will require the most work to get back in use.
As of 12:15 a.m., power outages were being reported up and down the coast. According to Jersey Central Power & Light, major outages were reported in Neptune, Howell and Manahawkin and Toms River. According to the data at the time the township was reporting more than 5800 people without power. Neighboring Freehold had more than 7100 people reporting having no power as part of a total of over 35,000 people in the county reporting problems.
Howell Mayor Robert Walsh said outages are increasing throughout the town but have not been felt in all corners of Howell. Reports have outages in neighborhoods like Pointe O'Woods, but sections of Ramtown and near Howell High School reportedly still have power as of 12:15 a.m.
Walsh said the township did everything it could to prevent widespread outages, but it has proven to be a difficult task. "We prepared as good as we could, but we don't have enough to combat mother nature," he said. The mayor said Howell residents should ensure that they have batteries and flashlights at hand since there is no way of knowing how long the outages will last.