Bloomfield’s Office of Emergency Management Director, Fred Menzel, gave an update on the latest developments in the cleanup efforts following Superstorm Sandy at a meeting held this morning at the Law Enforcement building. He said power in parts of Bloomfield will likely remain out for another week.
The meeting was attended by Mayor McCarthy, Councilmen Nick Joanow, Elias Chalet, and Michael Venezia, several members of the public and a number of other township officials. Following are the updates by topic:
The Crooks Avenue substation in Clifton has been down since the storm and this has affected all Bloomfield locations that are on that grid. There was one attempt to fire it up but it went down again. PSEG has 54 crews working on the substation. Some power outages may be restored as soon as Wednesday.
Mayor McCarthy, who was participating in a conference call with PSEG during the meeting, said that the latest information on power outages in town was that there are still 7,400 customers without power, down from 14,000.
Menzel stated that lack of communication from PSEG has hindered the township’s efforts to clean up after the storm. In addition, he said that a storm forecast to hit New Jersey on Wednesday may further delay power restoration and cleanup efforts.
Menzel also said that FEMA has announced that $300 in food stamps will be provided to those who lost power to replace food that had to be discarded. To apply, residents should call 1-800-621-3362 or go to the FEMA website. (UPDATE: This is apparently a false rumor. See here for more information).
The notification process for power outages is as follows: Contact the OEM (973-680-4177) about an outage, the Bloomfield OEM then faxes the report to the West Orange OEM, and it is then provided to PSEG. Menzel said he and the Deputy Coordinator of the OEM, Tom Pelaia, also have access to a hotline number to call PSEG in emergencies where there is a possibility of fire or other hazards.
Menzel stated trees fell on 25 houses throughout town. They have hired a crane to pull trees off roofs, but the trunk and branches have to then be cut up and removed, so the cleanup efforts are taking longer than anticipated. In addition, cleanup of branches and trees must wait until PSEG removes or disconnects live wires, as otherwise it would endanger DPW employees who remove them. Menzel stated these expenses will be covered up to 75% by FEMA. He also said the President had requested that FEMA cover 100% of storm-related expenses in New Jersey, so the township may be fully reimbursed for the costs.
DWP Director Anthony Nesto said that residents should drag branches down to the street and the town will pick them up, even if they were not from a street tree. He also cautioned residents to be aware of hanging branches in trees when walking, as there are wind gusts up to 30 m.ph. today.
Alternate side parking rules will go back into effect Monday, which will facilitate cleanup efforts. In addition, enforcement of meters will resume in the township lots.
Odd/even rationing went into effect
statewide in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Morris, Monmouth, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties at noon today. Owners of cars with license plates ending in an odd number can purchase gas on odd-numbered days, and those whose license plates end in an even number can purchase on even-numbered days. Gas stations that have gas currently have limits of $40-$50 per person and purchases are cash only.
Township vehicles have been able to fill up at the West Orange Armory through a state program.
The OEM is compiling a flexible list of gas stations that are open and have gas in order to facilitate the purchase of gas.
Bloomfield has no water emergency; water is safe to drink. However, there are water restrictions in place. Residents should not wash cars or water lawns/plants.
The Park Methodist Church at the corner of Broad Street and Park Avenue is available as a warming center. The church can also accommodate 6 families in the church. There are 100 beds available. For those who stay overnight, a free meal will be provided. In addition, the church will send a church bus to pick up senior citizens and bring them to the church.
Menzel said the Bloomfield Civic Center at 84 Broad Street could also be used as a shelter if conditions become worse for those without power. The Red Cross has provided 50 cots and blankets for anyone who may need to stay there.
Garbage pickup, recycling and leaf pickup will resume on Monday.
All schools with power will reopen on Monday. There are still four schools without power:
- Middle School
Residents will be able to vote on Tuesday, most at their usual polling places. Power will be provided through generators or a township fire truck. However, those who usually vote at Brookdale School will vote instead at Firehouse #4, next to Friendly’s. Those who usually vote at Demarest will vote at the Middle School.
Ongoing Information About the Storm Aftermath
Residents are urged to sign up for the township’s Reverse 911 system if they have not already done so. This will ensure that they will receive the latest information about the situation. They can sign up on the township website or call the Office of Emergency Management at 973-680-4177.
For more updates on the storm’s aftermath, Bloomfield residents can go to the Office of Emergency Management page of the Bloomfield township website. More information on FEMA services can be found here (see bottom of page).