Mayor Jackson is talking with a group of about 15 citizens in the conference room. Most are asking when they’ll get their power back. The mayor is hoping PSE&G can help answer that question.
PSE&G conference call beginning now: If wind too high, over 40mph (with the coming nor’easter) we’ll cease work in bucket trucks. Will work in the rain, but not in torrential downpour because it will put our workers at risk. Safety of our employees is our number one priority.
Still have 46,000 customers out in Essex and Passaic counties. Entire PSE&G system restored 90%. Yesterday in passaic, over 10,ooo and essex over 20,000 customers restored. Making good progress.
Glen Ridge: Started with 2,700 customers out. Now 1,630 customers out. Two circuits targeting, possibly get customers back tomorrow. Two crews out today. Anywhere from 6-10 linemen per crew.
Irvington: Local officials concerned because storm is coming. Number people still out is 5,100 customers.
West Orange: Lot of crews here doing lot of work. Circuits coming up but lot of service drops on individual calls. Working 5 circuits today.
Clifton: There are 3 major areas still without power: Williams St., Oakwood and the elementary school, and other side of route 3. Number of residents without power is 2,164.
4300 customers still without power. Are working two circuits, working on Cyberson and Chapman.
Local officials saying a resident is calling PSE&G hotline to report power loss, and PSE&G is telling her that she does, indeed, have power. She’s getting very frustrated. PSE&G official on conference call took her address and promised to look into the problem.
Clifton again: Working on 5 circuits. City’s oldest daycare still without power.
Wayne: Number of customers still out is 968. Working on 8 circuits in area today and tomorrow.
Bloomfield: Number of customers still out is 5,000. Glenfield Rd., no power there now. Will send someone to take a look today. Don’t know what happened. Was fixed and went back out.
West Orange again: 2025 customers still out. Lot of PSE&G workers out the last day or two.
Montclair: Mayor Jackson thanked PSE&G for all the work done lately. Number of customers still out is 4,625 down from 13,514.
Mayor Jackson said there are two large swaths in town, in the SW and NE corners of Montclair, that are still without power. In the SW corner it’s the areas between Union and Undercliff, and Harrison and Sutherland. In the NE corner, it’s the area behind NE elementary school. The mayor reported that there are whole blocks of blacked out areas. There are also pockets where one side of street is on and other side is off. What’s the timeframe for power restoration?
PSE&G responded that they’re working in those areas today and tomorrow, and that they have a heavy presence in town. PSE&G said they would take a look today at the NE corner of Montclair: Heller, Club, and Yantacaw area.
PSE&G call ended.
Mayor Jackson spoke:
We’ve been meeting daily, and emergency, at 10am for PSE&G conferenece call. Members present: Russo, Mann, and Baskerville.
Progress has been made, but until it’s your house, that’s not enough progress. I fully understand that. We’re in one of the most difficult areas in Essex County because of our topography and the incredible number of trees we have, and the number of poles in back yards. Because of those factors, we have almost a perfect storm of repair problems when a big storm comes through.
Problem in SW part of town is because there’s literally no power coming from the West Orange circuits. They shut off South Mountain because they’re working on it. That’s a good sign. When you call PSE&G and they say you have power, their philosophy is circuit is fixed and power is passing by. Most people will get their power back, but there will be pockets that don’t click on. Then PSE&G goes to next section. Pockets with no power are created, then they come back to fix the pockets or individual homes that didn’t get power back.
God willing the storm event doesn’t have much of an impact, we should have all circuits into town done by Friday. If you’re on Warren St., which is completely blank, when they turn circuit on, for most peole the lights will come back on. But there will be some houses that dont get their power back.
But if your home has a pole in the backyard, and narrow space to get to it, I’d say the probability of getting that work done by Friday is low. They have more crews doing pockets now, so that should help. But the reality is if you have a backyard repair, and your street has the power on, you can plan on a longer time frame, sometime into next week. Backyard work gets pushed back.
Other thing is if PSE&G tells you that your house has power, all that means is power is passing your house. They have to come back and fix it. Don’t panic that you’ll be forgotten.
Question and Answer session with residents:
A resident who lives near Mulford and Union St. said there is no power in her cul-de-sac. The mayor responded that if the weather holds, work could get done today or tomorrow.
Resident of Wildwood Ave. says the power has come back all around her. She joked that she has been stalking crews all around. She managed to get the boss of a crew from Arkansas to look at her problem. He said it was the responsibility of the crew from Florida.
Town Manager, Marc Dashields responded that even if you don’t see the crews, they’re out there working in that area.
A resident said that lots of people in his area, where it’s dark, are going to hotels. He heard about what happened with the theft of computers at Nishuane, and is concerned about further vandalism.
Dashield said we’re sending police cars to the areas blacked out at night. We are aware of that situation. We will have increased police patrols in all darkened areas.
Resident expressed appreciation for what the town council has done. The audience applauded!
Resident of S. Mountain Ave, said area south of Llewelyn Rd. lost power on Monday night as result of fire on lines.
A resident on Gordonhurst Ave. said he got power on north side of street last night. South side of street still has no power. There are pockets that are out down to Chestnut.
The resident then expressed concern about NJ Transit’s lack of transparency. The rumor is that tracks are washed out in Meadowlands, and they’ll have to rebuild track bed and put in new rails. We’re unable to find out any information about this on their website. He asked Council to talk to NJ Transit. DeCamp bus is now the only way for many people to get into city. It’s suicidal to drive in, he joked, so everyone is taking DeCamp buses. They fill up to standing room capacity. People are waiting 1-2 hours at bus stops to get into New York. Does the Council have power to ask DeCamp to add more buses, or come up with some other solution?
Mayor responded that DeCamp has every one of their buses on the road. They even are using buses they shouldn’t be using–because they’re breaking down. We’ve asked them to contact other vendors, to get NJ Transit buses to supplement. They’re looking at all those things. Wish we could tell them to put 100 more buses out. Dashields said yesterday he talked with them, and expects to hear back something today.
Councilman Bill Hurlock, via speakerphone, said he has talked with NJ Transit. They’re running buses from Allwood line every 5-10 minutes. He reiterated that unfortunately, DeCamp is running buses they shouldn’t be using. They’re breaking down and people are getting stranded on Route 3. We’re looking at least 3-4 weeks of no train service. Mayor wondered if we should run a jitney bus to Allwood. Town Manager, Marc Dashields said he’d take a look at that.
Resident on Wachung said there’s tree down in a backyard in the area between Valley and Edgemont. It’s wrapped in wires but she can’t get PSE&G to get it removed.
A resident expressed concern about PSE&G’s comments about all the progress that has been made, and wondering if they’ll leave us in the lurch. Councilman Herlock says there’s no way we’ll let PSE&G forget about us.
A resident says pockets in the Columbus, Ardsley, and Cambridge area is out of power. It has happened several times now in recent years. Another resident asked if there’s anything we can do to improve the overall system. In Europe they have wires underground. Is there a longterm plan?
Mayor Jackson responded that Governor Christie has been talking about this lately. Local people need to look at doing something together. The climate is changing, we have antiquated infrastructure, and now you have FIOS, and Comcast wires on the poles. And the poles were never designed to carry all this weight. If we could bury some of this stuff, maybe at least half of what’s in the backyards, that would be helpful. It’s the way to go, but incredibly expensive.
A resident of Engleside Rd. expressed concern over the storm coming this afternoon. Will backyards still be on the back burner?
Mayor responded that on Nov. 12/13th, PSE&G will declare the Sandy event over. Means that if there are repairs needed from the coming storm, those will get taken care of before the backyards.
Fire Chief Allen responded to Councilwoman Baskerville’s concerns about people, including children, walking through dangerous areas, with live wires, in the Elmwood and Elm St. area. I view safety issues as high priority, said Baskerville. If kids are running through the area like it’s a playground, I view that as a safety issue.
Southern and Walnut Terrace areas might take a while longer because they’re smaller, isolated areas.
Residents were encouraged to sign up for alerts from City Council.
Councilman Rich McMahon said parts of town no longer look like 1800’s. Seeing improvement. Asked residents to not put debris near catch basins or fire hydrants.
Fire Chief Allen says today his department will put out information about safety issues surrounding candles, extension cords, generators, etc.
Resident noted that the lines for gas are much shorter now.
Update on fuel situation from Town Manager Dashields: We got an emergency allocation of a truckload of diesel fuel last night. We also got cranes today, so we’ll be removing more debris. We’re not expecting the storm to require plowing. We think it’ll just be a salting operation, which is good. We’ll see what the conditions are.
Town clerk Linda Wanat reported that fifty eight percent of registered voters participated in election. That’s higher than the last few presidential elections, and occurred despite the challenging conditions. The election went basically without incident. Some machines went down, but were properly replaced.
Meeting was adjourned.
After the meeting, Town clerk Linda Wanat told us that President Obama won 82.89% of the vote in Montclair, while 16.06% of residents went for Mitt Romney.
Then it started to snow.