Montclair Council Emergency Meeting (Live Blog)

PSE&G conference call getting ready to begin…

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.

East Orange:
4300 customers still without power. Are working two circuits, working on Cyberson and Chapman.

North Caldwell:
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.

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  1. “There are also pockets where one side of street is on and other side is off. What’s the timeframe for power restoration?”

    Just put in the daily call to PSE&G. Was told the “side pocket” street problems should be taken care of between tomorrow and Friday. Keep up the pressure, MTC.

  2. There are many folks on the roads between Grove St. And Brookdale Park still without power. Pse&G are reporting many of these people as restored when they’re not. Saying there were never any work orders originally for other families. Can’t get any consistent info. When we call. Who can we talk to get some answers? Thanks so much! Can tweet me @icatmorris

  3. From Montclair township:

    A number of Montclair residents who have contacted PSE&G to report that their power is still off have been told by the company that it has been restored.

    PSE&G restored electricity to a number of main lines and crews are now branching out from those lines into smaller areas. Those who are being told that their power has been restored may be in areas situated along these main lines and an issue exists between the main line and your dwelling or street.

    Please continue to call PSE&G to report that you remain without power so that their crews can be made aware of your situation: 1-800-436-7734.

    The Township will make certain that PSE&G representatives know that residents are being told their power is restored when it is not.

  4. I just called, they said my power was restored on Monday !!!! It must be fine then. I had a large tree removed from wires and now the utility pole is about to fall over so I reported that.
    In the words of our famous local ball player, “It ain’t over until it’s over.”

  5. Glenfield Road in Bloomfield/GlenRidge has been out for 9 consecutive days. Residents have made attempts to speak to mayors in both towns, have reached out via social media outlets (twitter, facebook) and still nothing.
    Families have been displaced, some neighbors have nowhere to go and have been prisoners in their cold homes with no power, no food, no hot water, no heat. While I understand that other coastal towns were severly damaged, if not destroyed, the continued ineffective communication between town officials and PSEG is PATHETIC

  6. “Good job” for this Council. Being as responsive aspossible. Appreciate the frequent e-mail updates, too.

  7. It’s day 9 for many of us. Compounded by having to wait outside for hours for a DeCamp bus.
    Everyone, please, please think of any elderly or infirm neighbors and check in on them to be sure they have water, food, blankets. I had an elderly couple on my block die of hypothermia a few years ago when their furnace went out. They were alone for only a few days with no heat.

  8. NJT is indeed giving us the cold shoulder… however the Montclair branch has been shitlisted by NJT ever since the nonsense down the hill with everyone fighting the Montclair Connection back circa 2000. NJT says 16,000 people used the Montclair branch daily, and no amount of busing to Allwood is going to fill that void.

  9. I just hope the town continues to provide warming/charging stations until ALL residents have been restored. I fear that as time passes, and fewer residents are without, the facilities that have been made available to cope will be taken away and those who need it the most (who have been out the longest) will be without any support.

  10. Glenfield road, mentioned above, was restored for the first time last night, went out again, and is still out. Thanks to Montclair for keeping up the pressure. Mom has health issues and wants to be in her home.

  11. PSEG repaired the wires on the main Glenfield Road (blfd) pole and within two hours, the wires fell off the power pole onto the street, and power was off again. PSEG told the mayor this morning that crews were there working on it but no one was there all day. 8 days to get it fixed, incompetence caused the new power outage, and PSEG apparently misled the Mayor. Wow. Took me one hour to get a call through. Please PSEG, my Mom has health issues, please fix YOUR wires and restore power.

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