‘Small town, big heart.’ As cleanup in Helmetta continues, donations pour in

Residents in Helmetta are still cleaning up two days after Hurricane Henri caused flooding in the town. And a majority are still waiting or their gas and electric service to be restored.

News 12 Staff

Aug 24, 2021, 10:36 PM

Updated 964 days ago

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Residents in Helmetta are still cleaning up two days after Hurricane Henri caused flooding in the town. And a majority are still waiting or their gas and electric service to be restored.
Along Railroad Avenue there are dumpsters filled with homeowners’ ruined belongings. There are muddied washers and dryers, stoves, furniture and much more after water filled their homes.
Kayleigh Dolinski's basement is filled with 6 feet of water. She says that she lost a lot down there.
“Hot water heater, furnaces, washer, dryer, freezer and any other belongings we had in the basement,” she says.
Friends have come over to hose down any of the items they were able to save. Dolinski says that she is grateful that the water did not reach her first floor. She says that the goal is to get the electricity turned back on so that her family can sleep in the home again.
“Now that our water is out of our basement, they can come in and change our meter,” she says. “My entire panel was under water, so I’m assuming it needs to be replaced. Until that’s done, I can’t get electricity.”
Helmetta is only 1-square mile. The area is surrounded by the Helmetta Pond to the north, the Manalapan Brook to the south, and old cranberry bogs and wetlands to the west. Neighbors say the bogs and wetlands send water down John Street during storms.
Residents from neighboring Spotswood have been dropping off donations at the Helmetta Community Center. The American Red Cross is also on scene to help.
The mayor says that the town needs cleaning products and beverages.
“Energy drinks, Gatorade. The heat is an issue, not the electricity. So we’re keeping the community center as a cooling station,” says Mayor Chris Slavicek.
The mayor says that he is very appreciative of the donations and of how the town has come together.
“That motto, ‘Small town, big heart,’ is the epitome of Helmetta and all of the first responders, the generous donations that was shown over 48 hours,” the mayor says.
The biggest issue now is getting the power back on. Many homeowners will need repairs and an electrician to sign off on the work.
Gov. Phil Murphy came to Helmetta this afternoon to assess the damage. The governor has previously said that he will ask FEMA for recovery assistance.


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