By David Cruz
Nemo rolled into North Jersey innocently enough with just some rain and wind this morning. Commuters outside Newark Penn Station were going about their regular routine, getting to work via taxi or bus, while they still could. Some were thinking that Nemo’s bark might just be worse than his bite, but NJ Transit Spokeswoman Nancy Snyder warned commuters don’t sleep on this storm.
“We are adding additional rail service coming out of New York Penn Station into many of the lines, particularly Raritan Valley, New jersey Coastline and Northeast Corridor, and so we’re giving our customers an opportunity to leave earlier and weather the storm a little bit better and shield themselves from the severe impact that we’re expecting to happen later on tonight,” Snyder said.
Transit was bulking up service and trying to stay ahead of delays, which have to be expected in an event like this. Inside Penn Station, the board said no delays but trains were full as the early birds tried to get out of town before things got any worse.
“We’re confident that we’ll be ready for the morning rush on Monday,” Snyder said.
Across town, Newark Mayor Cory Booker mustered his emergency services staff and warned residents to look out for one another and to obey local ordinances on snow removal.
“We have the other problem where businesses or families will shovel their driveways into the streets, and that snow becomes problematic as well,” Booker said. “So, if we all can cooperate, we will move through our system, major arteries, hills, working on major assets in our city like hospitals, senior building and eventually getting to our neighborhood streets.”
Just after midday, Jersey City officials were getting their plow and salt teams ready for a critical moment. This is an election year and any mayor worth his salt knows that he will be judged by how his administration deals with a major storm. Jerramiah Healy is well aware.
“Our Office of Emergency Management will be activated and in full force at 4 p.m. today, when it’s supposed to intensify. By the way, I think it’s intensifying as we speak,” Healy said. “The temperature has dropped, the wind has picked up. For those folks out there, it’s very slick and dangerous to be walking out there right now on any sidewalks.”
By late-afternoon, the rain had turned back to snow and gusty winds were starting to make walking around difficult. It is the worst kind of day for the city’s homeless.
“We usually sleep right there. Now since it’s raining, cops let them sleep downstairs,” said Jersey City resident Shirley Robinson.
The media can be a bit breathless when a storm like this hits. This man said he was, so far, unimpressed with our warnings.
“I think it’s just a lot of hype right now. I mean this is just, you know, normal right now. We haven’t gotten any snow, so it shouldn’t be too bad, I don’t think,” said Carlos Moyet.
“I’m just getting home from work in the city, and we’re going home and we’re gonna hunker down,” said Jersey City resident Eileen McGinley.
Conditions have continued to worsen throughout the day and forecasters say the worst is yet to come tonight, overnight and into tomorrow. If you’re watching this at home, the best thing is to stay where you are. And if you don’t have to go out this weekend, simply, don’t.