Where in the world is a Shamrock--In the middle of Hurricane Irene

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By Brittany Menke-Technical Writer

Photos courtesy of the West Windsor Police Department.

Pictured above: Princeton Junction Train Station

While we were all watching the Hurricane Irene coverage on our television screens, one New Haven native was witnessing it firsthand. Brandon Menke, a 2004 graduate of New Haven High School, moved to Princeton, New Jersey after finishing his studies at Washington University to be closer to his graduate school, New York University. He didn’t think when he moved there that he would be having an experience such as this.

Princeton, New Jersey is an hour west of the Jersey coast and an hour southwest of New York City, making it in the path of the storm that rocked the East Coast this past weekend.  Irene hit Princeton Saturday evening and roared all through Saturday night into Sunday morning. I interviewed Menke about his experience.

I first questioned Menke about the precautions he took to prepare for the storm and if he considered leaving the area. Menke said that he “purchased nonperishable food items, candles and lighters, gallon jugs of water, and a manual-power emergency radio; made sure his cell phone was fully charged; and put books and electronics into plastic bags and tubs.” Also, he said he considered leaving and going further inland, but after the news reported that Irene was losing strength, he decided to stay put.

Menke said the nearest mandatory evacuations to him were the New Jersey coastal communities and the most frightening part of the storm for him occurred at around 3 am on Sunday morning. His area was under river flooding, hurricane, and tornado warnings simultaneously and all that he could see when he looked outside were huge puddles forming and trees swaying against the sky. He also said that all of the waiting and uncertainty was very unnerving.

Prictured Right:  Street flooded in Princeton Junction, Nj.

As far as damage, Menke’s immediate neighborhood went relatively unscathed. However, closer to the campus of Princeton University, about 5 minutes from Menke’s home, there were trees down and the 7+ inches of rain Princeton received has caused some of the streets to be flooded. Menke said the most common problems experienced in his part of New Jersey was flooding, especially in peoples’ basements, and power outages, with 188,000 residents still currently without power in Menke’s area. However, this is much better than the 700,000 power outages they initially expected. As a final thought Menke had this to say, “Given what was possible, I feel very fortunate that our neighborhood didn't suffer the extensive flooding and prolonged power outages so many around New Jersey and other parts of the East Coast are still enduring.”