With high winds knocking down trees and power lines all over Bridgewater, Mayor Dan Hayes said it is important that people just remain in their homes for the time being.
"The evening hours lived up to the predictions," he said. "We had probably 50 roads closed because of downed power lines. The common road paths are blocked."
Hurricane Sandy swept through Bridgewater Monday into Tuesday, leaving destruction in its wake, and spread out all over the town.
"The residents of the township have suffered incredible devastation to their homes and property," said Bridgewater Township Police Chief Richard Borden. "We have received approximately 40 reports of trees impacting homes, in some cases severely."
Hayes said the Department of Public Works crews were out at the first light Tuesday to begin the work of clearing the trees from the roads.
And both he and Borden recommend that people remain inside for the time being.
"We are recommending, due to the hazards of hanging wires and trees still uprooting and falling, that unless you have a true emergency you do not leave your homes," Borden said. "The police will get to you if any emergency assistance is needed."
Fortunately, Hayes said, there have been no serious injuries to residents themselves. But, he said, that does not mean it is time to take it easy.
"The threat to injury just changes," he said. "There are still hazards."
And for that reason, Hayes said, residents need to adhere to the barriers and cones placed around town to keep people away from certain areas.
In one location, Hayes said, someone had cut the police tape that surrounded live wires, and people were driving underneath a tree that had not fully fallen to the ground.
"It is dangerous to go around the road barriers," he said. "And it is illegal. The fines have increased for that."
Hayes said it is unclear whether wires lying on the ground will be fixed by Wednesday, but they should all be treated as live. And the DPW is working as quickly as possible, he said, but residents need to adhere to signage and barriers.
"These are the property of Bridgewater, and they are in place for a serious purpose, to point out danger," he said. "People need to realize they are breaking the law and putting others at risk by removing that warning."
Aside from the wind damage, Hayes said, the township fortunately did not see much flooding, and all the rivers were below flood level.
"It was a major wind event," he said.
As for power outages, Hayes said that residents should be reporting any outages to the power companies to ensure that their homes are recorded among all others.
For those using generators, Hayes said, it is important to make sure they are far enough away so that carbon monoxide does not build up.
"They should be far from inlets into the house," he said.
Hayes said that, for now, as clean-up continues and residents are encouraged to stay home—especially because the township offices, schools and businesses are all closed anyway—he is proud of the work the volunteers and employees are doing for Bridgewater.
"There are tremendous people in the responding teams, and they are putting in long hours," he said. "That is something I'm grateful for."