Owners of more than 20 Bound Brook homes and businesses damaged by Ida’s floodwaters want answers from New Jersey Transit and Somerset County officials.
They say an NJ Transit train struck on flooded tracks blocked one of the city’s three gates, keeping it open during the September 1 storm. The valves are part of a $ 300 million federal project that was supposed to prevent serious flooding.
W&W Auto & Truck owner Bill Yeager says his business depends on these valves.
“That’s what they told us. “This project here will save your business,” Yeager says.
NJ Transit officials said a Raritan Valley Line train stalled around 9:30 p.m. amid extreme flooding and debris, preventing the door from closing.
“They dropped the ball. They dropped the ball hard. We lost a lot, ”says Yeager.
The Somerset County crews finally managed to close the door at around 3 a.m., but by then it was too late. The flood water was already flowing in the district to the west of the city.
“The doors are welded and for safety reasons New Jersey Transit demanded that only they could break this weld,” said Bound Brook Mayor Robert Fazen. “And I understand that, because if they weren’t welded together, as I say, a vandal can come close the door and destroy a train.”
Fazen says the Army Corps of Engineers is confident that if the door had been closed it would have held water as it was designed to. The mayor says the damage to the west side of town is directly related to this stuck door.
NJ Transit said it had to wait for the floodwaters to recede “in order to clear the debris and perform the necessary safety inspections” before the train could move. But the agency did not explain why service on the Raritan Valley line had not been suspended earlier.
“I feel abandoned. I mean, really, I feel disappointed. We have invested a lot in this place, I built my house here, ”says Yeager.
W&W Auto & Truck backs up in front of the valve. Yeager says he gave up part of his property to help build the project. After Ida, he found himself with a foothold in his business, $ 60,000 in damage and lost equipment and 11 customers saw their cars total.
“We’re just trying to put it all together, finish it all and see where we’re going to end up in the next three months,” says Yeager. “Pandemic, flood, it’s hard. It’s really difficult.
The mayor says he is organizing a meeting next week between NJ Transit, the Army Corps and Somerset County officials to find out more.