Before there was Superstorm Sandy, there was the blizzard of 2010, the first anomalous storm of a two year period that included two hurricanes, an earthquake and even a “derecho” that flooded roadways across town.
The Great Brick Blizzard of Dec. 26, 2010 dumped 34 inches of snow on Brick Township, which had the highest-recorded snowfall of any town in New Jersey. It left residents with $1.4 million in removal costs, 29,000 calls for service to town hall, 49 out of the township’s 72 plow trucks broken down and 11 ambulances stuck – at one point or another – in the snow.
Nothing seemed to go smoothly during the snow removal operation. With many of the dump trucks and tandems stuck, the township thought it could hire contractors to help – but when they received higher-priced offers from other towns, they left. In the years that followed, township officials modified the contractors to guarantee Brick would be prioritized. They also bought additional four wheel drive ambulances and, in the wake of Sandy, added surplus military vehicles to the emergency fleet.
Many residents were stuck at home for days. By the time Dec. 31 rolled around, most of the roads were open again – just in time for the township’s end-of-year council meeting, which was packed with angry residents fuming about the days-long wait to be able to get out of their homes.
Officials tried to calm the crowd, largely to no avail. Then-councilman Mike Thulen explained in detail how the plow trucks became stuck in snow drifts, with a second vehicle designed to tow U.S. Army tanks blowing its transmission as it tried fruitlessly to remove a disabled tandem near the Ridge Road Public Works headquarters.
The storm also took a political toll on the township’s Republican organization. The all-GOP council at the time was roundly criticized – fairly or not – for the slow cleanup. Controversies over Public Works funding would ensue in the months to come, culminating in a referendum that hiked taxes well above the state’s 2 percent cap, and the following year saw the Democrats take control of the township’s governing body. Since the storm, no Republican has won a municipal election in Brick.