Pleasantville on the mend

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Crews are still at work repairing power lines along North Main Street Thursday, July 5.

PLEASANTVILLE — Most of the residents and business owners were back in action Thursday, July 5 as power came back to the streets of the city.

The early morning storm Saturday, June 30 that caused widespread damage and power outages to most of Atlantic County dealt a blow to the city, but not as much as other towns.

Rodney Cole, who lives in apartment complex on Leeds Avenue, said his block never lost power. "We had it the whole time," he said. "We were lucky."

However, not everyone was as fortunate.

Yashua Saravia, a maintenance worker at Bay’s Harbor apartment complex on Glendale Avenue, said the residents there were without power since an early morning storm came through Friday morning – a day before Saturday’s derecho.

"We already had the power out from the first storm, and then this storm came through," he said. The high sustained winds uprooted trees in the complex as well: one smashed a car in the parking lot and another fell on top of a luckily-unattended second floor unit.

"That tree shaded the whole corner. It was so old and big. Now we have no shade," he said.

He said he and complex superintendent Jose Hernandez, both of whom live on the property, helped gather residents together daily until the power was restored Wednesday, July 4. The 163-unit complex houses approximately 250 to 300 people, he said, ranging in age from senior citizens to young children.

"We brought all our resources together," Saravia said. "We sat in the hallways of the downstairs units with our candles and chairs. People were sharing rooms and ice with each other. We all pulled together and helped one another."

Council President Judy Ward, who serves on the senior citizens committee, said the power to senior high- and mid-rise buildings was out from Saturday to Monday, as well at some of the units in the Pleasant Acres/Pleasant Manor complex.

"The Red Cross took water over to them and our public works department lent them a grill so they could cook the food they had and not lose it," Ward said. "The seniors really had a great attitude about it. They were very patient. They turned it into a picnic."

Ward also noted how hard the police, fire, public works and emergency personnel have been working.

"They have been working around the clock, keeping us safe," she said. "They and the electric company have been really great to us and have banded together."

She said in comparison to having storm-related fatalities, the damage to properties and power outages is a more manageable result.

"I feel so blessed and lucky that this storm hit at 1:30 a.m. instead of 1:30 p.m. when people are out, driving their cars around," she said. "I am so thankful that no one got hurt, no one died, because it could have happened if it came through at a different time."

As the emergency personnel were getting up and running, reacting to the storm’s damage on Saturday morning, driving through the city streets was a bit of a daunting task, as some intersections turned chaotic because of power outages at traffic signals.

According to resident Rebekah Zumwalt, the intersection of Franklin Avenue and the Black Horse Pike was particularly precarious to cross.

"Around 11 a.m. on Saturday, police were directing traffic at the New Road and Main Street intersections along the Black Horse Pike, but at Franklin Avenue the intersection was completely unregulated," she said. "Traffic was flying through at full speed as if the light were green for Black Horse Pike traffic, although cars were backed up trying to cross on Franklin. It was nerve-wracking watching drivers inch out into traffic and cut through the gaps. Later that afternoon, police had set up temporary barriers and caution tape to restrict Franklin Avenue traffic to right-hand turns only."

Mayor Jesse Tweedle said as he drove around assessing the damage along city streets on Saturday morning, he found that many folks were gathering together at the Wawa on Delilah Road, grabbing coffee and gas and chatting about the unexpected storm.

While most residents worked together to support and help one another, Ward said she unfortunately was the victim of an unlikely crime.

"We had no power until this morning (Thursday)," she said. "I had been cooking out on our grill for all of our meals since we couldn’t cook inside. Then, on July 3 while I was out of the house, some thief came and stole our grill. I’ve had that outside for years, but I guess with the situation it was more appealing. But, it’s a shame that while everyone is helping everyone else, someone else is preying on people. I was so upset. I feel so violated."

Ward said she knows it is unlikely thinking, but she would be happy if the person was just "borrowing" the grill for a few days.

"I know it’s unrealistic, but if they want to return it, we will gladly take it back, no questions asked" she said. "They don’t even have to clean it."
The gutter of this home on Walnut Avenue hangs uselessly, having been ripped away from its brackets during the storm. This large tree was uprooted and landed on top of the shed in the backyard of a home along North Main Street, smashing it and its contents. Bay’s Harbor Apartment complex superintendent Jose Hernandez, left, and maintenance worker Yashua Saravia, stand in front of the building that sustained the most damage in the storm. The top floor of the end unit was damaged when a mature tree in front of the building was uprooted during the early Saturday storm.

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