Category 10 Winds, Along with Intense Squall and Thunderstorms, Create Instant Chaos Across West Essex Tuesday
by Carolyne Volpe Curley / Carolyne@WestEssexNOW.com
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WEST ESSEX, NJ - Late Tuesday afternoon, West Essex was slammed with a storm so strong that many have questioned if we had a tornado come through the area.
While some areas of New York did see tornados touch down, West Essex experienced a brief, but incredibly powerful, Squall with Whole Gale, Category 10, 66mph Winds, which was followed up by equally damaging Thunderstorms.
The violently intense onset was reported by NOAA's Fairfield Weather Station as a Squall - which they define as a "sudden violent gust of wind or a localized storm" - and it began in West Essex at 4:44pm, followed by Thunderstorms which continued until 6:01pm.
In this very short period of time, the Winds, Lightning, and Rain caused a huge amount of damage around the West Essex area.
What follows is a timeline of incidents chronicled as they were reported (not as they occured) to which Police, Fire and DPW crews responded and worked tirelessly to clean up for days:
Tuesday, May 15
Police begin welfare checks of residences, including homes where children are on their own.
Roseland: Eagle Rock Avenue, Methodist Church
By the end of the Storm, over 90 streets which included hundreds of residents, were without power:
John Hannon, 55, of Toms River, Killed in Saturday Morning Plane Crash Behind Kiddie Academy, Passaic Avenue, West Caldwell
UPDATE: 1:30pm Tuesday
The Medical Examiner's office has confirmed the pilot's identity as John Hannon, 55, of Toms River.
WEST CALDWELL, NJ - Saturday morning, at 9:59am, the West Caldwell Police and Fairfield Police were alerted to a plane crash in the wooded area behind Kiddie Academy, located at 810 Passaic Avenue, West Caldwell. Immediately after, West Caldwell Fire Department and the Fairfield Fire Department were dispatched to the scene for a working fire in progress. By 10:03am the West Essex First Aid Squad was dispatched to the crash site as well.
"Officers discovered a single engine Cessna 206
Peter Knudson, spokesman from the National Transportion Safety Board in Washington DC, confirmed with West Essex Now that the plane was a Cessna T206H. Knudson said that there was one person on board, the pilot, and he was killed in the accident. According to Knudson, the plane crashed after takeoff from the Essex County Airport into the rear of Kiddie Academy which is about 1/2 mile away. An investigator from the NTSB arrived in town Saturday afternoon, and the investigation continued with local law authorities early Sunday morning. Knudson also confirmed that fire from the plane itself caused a brush fire to the surrounding area.
West Caldwell Fire Chief Jim Alvine explained to WEN that he saw the plane having problems, called the police, and then sent out a call for mutual aid from Fairfield, Caldwell, Verona and the West Essex First Aid Squad.
"I witnessed the plane coming down and crashing," Alvine commented.
Fairfield Deputy Fire Chief Tim Connolly was the first to reach the burning airplane.
"I was the first one to reach the wreckage," Connolly commented.
Because the plane crashed into the woods, the fire departments were extinguishing both the plane fuel fire and the surrounding area brush fire as well using "Purple K Fire Extiguishers."
Kiddie Academy does offer a summer program for infants to children up to age 12; because the incident occurred on Saturday, the school was closed.
The Caldwell Fire Department provided mutual aid with one engine, and one truck at 10:08am. North Caldwell Police responded to Passaic Avenue for traffic control and North Caldwell Fire Department responded, as well, with one engine. The Verona Fire Department and the Essex County Sheriff's Department also offered mutual aid.
At 10:38am, the Roseland Fire Department and soon after the Essex Fells Fire Department each responded with one engine to the West Caldwell firehouse for coverage.
Because this is an aviation incident, the Federal Aviation Authority and the National Transportation Safety Board are handling the investigation.
According to Paris, it is believed Hannon experienced a mechanical malfunction with the airplane during take-off. The debris has been removed from the crash site.
WEST CALDWELL, NJ - At about 11:35am Sunday morning, a red sedan drove into the Brion home located on Stonybrook at the corner of Central Avenue, West Caldwell. Both West Caldwell Police and West Caldwell Fire reported to the scene immediately. Joe Brion, his wife and son were home in the house when the accident occurred; neither the driver nor the residents were harmed in any way.
Central and Stonybrook was closed during the police investigation. Additionally, the house's structure was damaged and the residents are awaiting the report from a building inspector. PSEG was also called to the area to investigate the smell of natural gas which followed the accident. No police information is available at this time.
"I wasn't home," said Ari Brion, "but my dad told me that
"Everyone is good, the car only damaged the house," Ari continued.
"I live on Washington, the first house in from Central,"
UPDATED: Monday, 8:50am
WEST CALDWELL, NJ - West Caldwell Police Chief Michael J. Bramhall released further information on Friday evening's incident at Shop Rite, located at 540 Passaic Avenue, West Caldwell.
According to the Chief, at about 7:30pm Friday evening, officers were called to the scene of the grocery store where a vehicle had crashed through the front window. The arriving officers found a 2002 Red Cadillac which was determined to have been driven in reverse, near the front doors of the business.
Neither the driver, Ilona Rohonyi, 82, from West Caldwell, nor anyone else at the scene reported any injuries.
Both the West Essex First Squad and the West Caldwell Fire Department reported to the scene to assist. Eventually, the vehicle was removed and the building was determined to be structurally safe; ShopRite was open the next morning on schedule.
"The investigation revealed that the driver, while backing out of a parking space, mistakenly pressed on the gas instead of the brake
"No employees or customers were injured,"
West Caldwell Officer Steven Huster conducted the investigation; Rohonyi was said to have been visibly shaken up but reportedly was not exhibiting any visible signs of injury. She was issued a summons for careless driving and her information was submitted to NJ DMV for driver re-testing.
Updated: 3:43pm Thursday
WEST CALDWELL, NJ - At 11:50am Thursday, the West Caldwell Police and West Caldwell Fire departments responded to the scene of a home on Westover Avenue. Public Service Gas and Electric (PSEG) had contacted the township after a call came into them from a private contractor who was doing a water main replacement near the home.
According to West Caldwell Police Chief Michael J. Bramhall, the workers did hit a gas line and the police and fire departments responded immediately after they received notification.
PSEG was able to repair the gas leak and there was no need for any evacuations. Westover Avenue will continue to be closed until the water main project is repaired.