Westfielders Still Without Power Feel 'Forgotten'

Frustrated and angry, residents say PSE&G has no record of their outage.

Some Westfielders feel like they've been left out in the cold, literally. As it approaches the two-week mark since they lost power, several of the remaining five percent of Westfield residents who are without heat and electricity contacted Patch to say they are "cold, tired, and fed up."

A Tweet posted early Saturday, Nov. 10 by the Town of Westfield stated "The #1 issue in Town continues to be full power restoration. We know it (sic) difficult especially for the final 5%, but you are not forgotten."

But that's not how some residents feel, especially those who were promised power by midnight Friday yet failed to have it restored. Making matters worse, some residents said, is the fact that they have heeded Mayor Andy Skibitsky's advice and called in their outage only to discover PSE&G has no record of it. Additionally, some residents said they are still facing dangerous conditions such as downed wires right outside their door.

Jennifer Dombalis, who lost power on Monday, Oct. 29, said a downed pole and dangling wires are still in front of her Wychwood Road residence. After being told her power would be restored by midnight Friday, Dombalis contacted Patch Saturday and stated she still did not have power and when she contacted PSE&G she was told no record of her outage existed. 

"I called PSEG again to get an update and this time I was told there was never a call made from my address and she would put in a work order that we have no power," Dombalis said. "I am at a loss for words. I called over a week ago to report and yesterday to get an update."

Dombalis, like other Westfield residents, questions whether she was simply given an erroneous time for restoration to get her off the phone. 

"There are still live wires hanging down on my street and a down pole," she said. "The Westfield police taped off from the bottom of my driveway a week ago. The other end of my street is blocked off with barriers they put up. Yesterday, the police came back, removed the tape and put wood sawhorse barriers in the road at the bottom of my driveway. I cannot park in my driveway because I have no way out. I have to park down the street. There were fire trucks here last night (Thursday) as well. There seems to be a bigger problem that no one is willing to tell the residents on this street. Last night (Thursday) the power was restored to Topping Hill Road, which is the street behind me. I honestly believe we are the forgotten street."

But Dombalis, who said following last year's storm her street was also one of the last to have power restored, isn't alone in feeling abandoned.

Geraldine Stewart of Coleman Place said she also feels forgotten. Despite daily calls to PSE&G, Stewart stated that her outage was never issued a job number.

Residents on Oxford Terrace and Nelson Place are also without power.

In an article published Sunday morning by The Star Ledger examining New Jersey towns' response and recovery efforts, Westfield fares well by comparison to other municipalities. The piece cites the Town's Twitter feed and two town-wide conference calls as means that were used to keep residents informed which many other towns didn't employ. 

Fourth Ward Councilman Keith Loughlin, who has also used his Twitter feed to post updates and respond to residents' inquiries, said while he had not received updated numbers from PSE&G as of Sunday morning, the utility has assured town officials that crews will remain in Westfield, "until the job is complete and all are restored."

"Please continue to report all outages to PSE&G (at) 1-800-436-7734," Loughlin noted.

Theo Gude Truch November 11, 2012 at 04:25 PM
I truly feel for the residents still without power. One tip I learned from Hurricane Irene last year is to CALL PSE&G EVERYDAY! Do not assume a neighbor has reported it. Last year, after Irene, I called after 3 days without power to find out when we would get it back, and there was no report of an outage. This time, and I don't care how much of a pain I was, I called every single day and on some days insisted on talking to a human being. Calling everyday will be something I do whenever I lose power!
twogirls84 November 11, 2012 at 05:19 PM
...and keep escalating up the chain of command!!! Every PSEG supervisor has a supervisor. Those initially answering the phones are really just spitting out the info they were told to without really knowing what is going on. The promises of when power will be restored are NOT specific to your neighborhood but just numbers relating to the state as a whole. This is such a misconception. Also...when we escalated our lack of power up the chain, a supervisor admitted to me that the info Christie is reporting is NOT the reality of what is taking place in the field. He is reporting what is being told to him...not necessarily the reality. The supervisor told us they are having trouble keeping track of what is happening in 'the field.' Totally disconcerting.
Lanre November 11, 2012 at 11:48 PM
So I received a call from an unknown number around 2:30 this afternoon...I decided not to pick it up. Turns out it was PSEG who called. Now because I didn't pick it up, they're not coming until TUESDAY. I hate them even more now.
Jeff B November 12, 2012 at 03:07 PM
PSE&G is incompetent. With the storm last Halloween 2011, I called repeatedly only to be told each time that their system showed we had power. Eventually we got so disgusted that we drove to a Plainfield PSE&G office to make a personal report. That seemed to get it into their whatever passes for their system. My suspicion is that they are poorly set up to record, track, manage, and solve problems with individual houses (as opposed to whole neighborhoods where a transformer might be down). Good luck!
AJ November 12, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Power has been restored to this block of Wychwood Road. The question now is, who is responsible for removing baracades and caution tape and who is responsible for removing trees that were taken down on private property and deposited in the street? The street needs for be cleared of debris. It is dangerous. I would ask that drivers that habitually speed on Wychwood Road use another street or slow down. Visibility is difficult and pedestrians use the street as we are without sidewalks.
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