Remembering The Great Deluge Of August 2011


By Greg Machos
June 15, 2013

The recent heavy rainfall here in the Garden State paled in comparison to the deluge that occurred here two years ago. Two months after GWC's new Vantage Pro 2 weather station was installed, it was put to the test with a deluge for the record books in August 2011. Over the span of that month, there were 19 days of measurable rainfall with five of those days being an inch of rain or more. The final rainfall tally for the month was 15.24 inches.

Over the last six and a half months of 2011, the new GWC weather station reported 35.27 inches of rainfall. So, approximately 43 percent of that period's rainfall fell during that month. The largest one day rainfall actually occurred on August 14th when approximately 4.15 inches fell in South Plainfield. The month's downpour was capped by the track of Hurricane Irene, which brought 5.34 inches of rain over a two day period of August 27 and 28.

The table may have been set in July with a very warm and humid month. During July 2011, there were 15 days when the temperature was at least 90 degrees. There were two heat waves including one that lasted for 9 days from July 16th to July 24th. The hottest day during that stretch was on July 22nd when the mercury shot up to 104 degrees with the dew point peaking at 80 for a heat index of 121. Total rainfall during the month was only 2.76 inches.

The result of the deluge of August 2011 was unprecedented flooding in my neighborhood as well as other nearby sections of South Plainfield and New Jersey after the hurricane cleared out. Spring Lake overflowed its banks into the center part of town, where it made Plainfield Avenue impossible to travel on. For my neighborhood, the flooding was even worse than it was in the 1970s. The flood waters went past our house up the street, and nearly got to the corner of another street. My family had several inches of water in the basement that caused damage to some appliances.

A house across the street from mine had 6 feet of water in its basement. Many backyards were flooded. An old mulberry tree in the back finally gave way to the combination of flooding, heavy rain, and wind from Irene. The tree uprooted, and damaged a neighbors fence. Not sure on how far the water would rise in the basement, my family decided to evacuate to a hotel in the area. Our gas had to be shut off. Part of the reason why our basement flooded the way it did was because we didn't have a battery backup for our sum pump. So, when the power went out, so did the pump.

It took a few days, but eventually we were able to get the water pumped out. The gas and electric were restored by the end of the week. However, the furnace, hot water heater, washer and dryer needed to be replaced. Fortunately, our house was able to get assistance from FEMA, which helped pay the bills to get those things replaced. Other areas, especially along the Raritan River such as in Bound Brook and Manville, the Passaic River such as Paterson, Pequannock, and Pompton Lakes, and the Millstone River were hit hard by the heavy rains and flooding.


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