Floodwaters caused by Hurricane Irene’s heavy rains are finally receding in Atlantic and Cumberland counties, allowing the reopening of major county roads that were closed for days because of high water.
But officials are not yet ready to declare an end to problems from last weekend’s storm.
Hamilton Township was still operating under a state of emergency Wednesday, but township Emergency Management Coordinator Bob Mattle expected that emergency status to be lifted by this morning.
Problems remain along Route 40, which is open for one lane west of Mays Landing. Mattle said the lane will shift between eastbound and westbound depending on traffic patterns. Weymouth Road between Mizpah Road and Route 322 remains closed, and Mattle said it may not reopen for a few weeks.
Otherwise, the water levels from flooding from the Great Egg Harbor and Mullica rivers has decreased, he said.
“I think we’ve gotten through the worst in terms of flooding,” he said.
County spokeswoman Linda Gilmore said it could be several days before all the water recedes, but noted the major roads are opening and the county should be able to handle all shore traffic for Labor Day weekend.
“We’re definitely improving every day,” she said. “We’re still in recovery mode.”
There are no estimates as far as damage.
In Cumberland County, officials reopened Almond and Garden roads in Vineland, Sharp Street in Millville and Sherman Avenue in Vineland and Deerfield Township.
However, Weymouth Road at Willow Grove Lake in Vineland remains closed. Vineland Police Capt. Thomas Ulrich said the road’s closing will be long-term.
Weymouth Road was damaged when floodwaters poured out of the lake Sunday night through much of Monday. A portion of the road at the lake washed out. Repair work continues at the Weymouth Road-Willow Grove Lake site.
Vineland officials said much of the city’s North Vineland section would have been under water had Weymouth Road been breached. Many North Vineland residents were evacuated as a precaution. A number of residents living near Willow Grove Lake had their homes surrounded by waters, which flooded many basements.
Cumberland County spokesman Keith Wasserman said water levels at Willow Grove Lake are “significantly down.”
Mandatory evacuations were also issued for Millville residents living along low-lying areas of the Maurice River south of the Union Lake Dam. The evacuations were considered a precaution in case the Maurice River flooded as water was purposefully drained from Union Lake to relieve pressure on the dam.
Water continued to shoot through all six open floodgates at the dam on Wednesday, and pour over the dam’s spillway. The Maurice River south of the dam remains high, but below flood levels.
Millville officials made special efforts - through the city’s website and its local cable access channel - to ensure residents that the Union Lake dam was stable and wouldn’t give way.
County officials are still inspecting roads, bridges and other structures for damage. There is as yet no damage estimate.
The county already suffered at least $20 million in damage - mostly in the form of damaged bridges, roads and dams - from flooding that occurred during a storm on Aug 14 and 15.
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An updated list of open, closed and obstructed Cumberland County roads can be found here.
Residents can also report issues with potholes or other road obstructions.