Mayor Skibitsky Update: Monday, Nov. 5, 8 p.m.

Skibitsky met with PSE&G president today to "voice collective concerns."

Dear Neighbor:

Obviously the number one issue in Town is full power restoration to all our residents and businesses. I still don’t have power in my home, so I certainly understand that what began as an inconvenience when the power initially went out has increasingly become a hardship with each passing day. Since before the storm arrived, I have been in contact with our County and State officials, the Governor’s Office, and PSE&G on a regular basis to advocate on behalf of Westfield residents. Today I met directly with the President of PSE&G, Ralph LaRossa, to voice our collective concerns about the restoration efforts and to receive as accurate an update as possible about the progress being made and immediate plans for full restoration. From the meeting, I learned the following:

  • Progress is being made, albeit slowly. There were over 9,500 outages in Westfield immediately after the hurricane and, as of today, 66% of those outages have been resolved.
  • As per Mr. LaRossa, PSE&G is aiming to restore approximately 500 residences in town per day. However, he warns that this figure is fluid, depending on the conditions (such as downed wires, blown transformer, snapped pole, etc.) that caused the outage in any given area. As of the time of our meeting today, 3,216  residences were still in need of restoration.
  • Due to the widespread extent of the damage and the complexity of the power generation and delivery system, PSE&G, regrettably, does not have the capability to offer specific dates or times when specific locations will be restored.
  • All substations that impacted Westfield residents have been restored and are fully operational.
  • Substations feed circuits that provide power to transformers that serve neighborhoods and streets. With the substations now online, PSE&G is addressing the circuits in the delivery system in need of repair. This is why you may see a large portion of an entire neighborhood with their power restored, but a small pocket of homes in that same neighborhood without power.
  • PSE&G presently has 3,000 technicians from other states to supplement their regular crews and have called in additional crews and equipment from as far away as California.

Some people have reported to me that they have not seen a PSE&G truck in their neighborhood and wonder if any work is being done. Please be assured that because you do not see a truck on your street, it does not mean that PSE&G is not working in town. PSE&G and its hired tree crews are working to remove the large trees entangled in power lines that are still blocking several of our roadways.  Some of the locations require bringing in special cranes and crews to finish the job. (Please remember that the Department of Public Works cannot remove any tree or branch that has wires near or embedded in them. Only PSE&G can address a downed wire.)  
Again, I understand the distress those of you still without power are feeling. I feel it too. To be sure, this was no ordinary storm – it was no doubt the worst weather event New Jersey has ever experienced. Lives were lost across the state. Thousands of our fellow New Jerseyans have lost their homes. As difficult as the aftermath of this storm has been on the people of Westfield, compared to what other communities have experienced, we really have to count our blessings. First and foremost, our residents suffered no serious storm related injuries.

I know when you are sitting in darkness, perhaps your next door neighbor has power, traffic is being diverted onto your street because of a downed tree on another road, and you only want to know exactly when your lights will come back on, it is hard to hear me ask for continued patience, but I must. We are a closely connected community and we care about each other. I am heartened by the stories I have heard of neighbors helping neighbors. We will get through this.  Power will be restored. Governor Christie has assured all New Jerseyans that the time it is taking to restore power is not due to a lack of concern or effort, but rather due the unimaginable magnitude of the damage that this natural disaster caused across the state and region.

I assure you that I will continue to advocate on your behalf until power is fully restored to everyone, the streets are cleared, and we can, as a community, return to normalcy.

Please take note of the following:

  • URGENTPlease do not go near any downed wires. Assume every wire is a live wire.
  • URGENT:  The Fire Department issued the following warnings: Do not run any type of fuel-powered equipment inside of your home or in any enclosed space such as a garage, even if the garage door is open.  This includes generators, gas grills, charcoal grills and portable fire places.  All equipment should be at least 15 feet from your home. Running fuel powered equipment in or too close to an enclosed structure, including a garage with its door open, can lead to deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.  Make sure all candles and all fires inside an approved wood burning stove or fireplace are attended to at all times.
  • Please remember to vote. Voting will take place as scheduled on Election Day, November 6, at your regular voting place, except  those that usually vote at Washington School (Ward 2, Districts 2, 3 & 6)  will vote at Roosevelt Intermediate School, and those who usually vote at Wilson School (Ward 2, Districts 4 & 5) will vote at Franklin School. Polls will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m
  • The Town is in the process conducting a one-time town wide curbside cleanup of storm related branches and twigs.  This does not include private trees removed by private tree contractors. Private tree contractors should dispose of the tree remnants as they normally do. The remnants should not be placed in the street.
  • The Conservation Center is open all week from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  • The Westfield Memorial Library is open during the day and on the weekends and may be used as a charging station for your mobile devices. Internet access is available as well.  The Library is also serving as a warming center and an information hub.
  • Jefferson School on the Boulevard is open 24/7 as a warming center.  (It is not a shelter.)
  • The County is operating a 24/7 shelter (with food and cots) until further notice.  The shelter is located at the Cranford Community Center, 220 Walnut Avenue, Cranford.  The contact number is 908-709-7283, ext. 2.
  • Follow us on www.twitter.com/TownOfWestfield to receive updates on your hand held devices.
Doogie Howser November 06, 2012 at 02:09 PM
How are you able to post using my logon?
Doogie Howser November 06, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Somehow, this is a 2nd Doogie Howser. Weird.
Enough already November 06, 2012 at 02:10 PM
My sentiments exactly! I think a lot of those complaining have cabin fever or they have children are in their terrible two's driving them nuts. There are warming locations, cellphone charging locations, shower and food locations around the area. I just think these people just want to vent.
Lisa November 06, 2012 at 02:21 PM
When you choose to own homes on barrier islands or any high risk coastal area, you know you are at higher risk of having hurricanes and nor'esters destroying your homes. People should not be allowed to build near those areas. Go inland and drive a few miles to the beach! Same for low lying flood areas. Why do we continue to allow building permits in these areas?
Montana Jack November 06, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Alot of the negativity is generated by laziness. Instead of blaming everyone else for your dereliction in purchasing a generator start moving your idle hands & spend that energy helping your fellow neighbors or moving your family to a warm place. Strategize your future generator purchase. Shut up, man up & get it done.
Pete November 06, 2012 at 02:51 PM
How dare we? How dare those people, and they will, put their hands out asking for help. At what point does someone have the sense to say that living below sea level or on the ocean shore is an invitation to disaster?
Dinkleberg November 06, 2012 at 03:14 PM
FACT from Westfield Twitter and PSE&G web site-----82% of PSE&G customers restored. To me that says 82% of the states mayors did a better job advocating. If 82% of kids did better than mine on their SAT's I would be upset, disappointed and embarrassed. I would not say "well that was a really hard test" which is essentially what a lot of you are saying. Also now that 82% of PSE&G customers are restored where are all of those additional workers? I am not saying the mayor is a bad person, I don't know him but I will say he lacks leadership and the understanding of how to get things done in this world. I will say again Mr Mayor solve the problem and get the whole town power!!!!!!
Jeff B November 06, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Well, Paul, Mr. Obama came here for his photo-op. Did you "contribute" to his campaign :-)
Bill Maher November 06, 2012 at 03:55 PM
We have been monitering both Westfield and Cranford for information provided to their citizens up to and after the storm. I would suggest Westfield go to school on what Cranford is doing. There appears to be a lack of leadership and technical expertise in this critical area in Westfield. As to PSE&G's performance I can only judge by what I have seen and it is woefully lacking. I take issue with PSE&G's lack of the capability to keep people informed as to their progress street by street. If they do not have such information available it does not speak well of their management. I am sure we all would understand how schedules change but at least we would have something more to rely on than the generic messages they have been offering. I understand they (PSE&G) were to provide the state with updated emergency plan's following the Irene debacle. I can only wonder where that plan is or if anyone ever read it. So our utilities get another pass on preparedness. As is said most folks never fix the roof when it is not raining. So the next time will be the same unless the customers hold their feet to the fire after this mess is over.
Jessica Blessing November 06, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Pete, I can bet you that if the devastation that happened at the beaches and staten island happened here there would be people hear putting there hands out asking for help. I know everyone is entitled to there opinion and able to voice it, I just can't believe how many people get onto the patch to just complain while it seems that they do nothing.
E Liz November 06, 2012 at 04:26 PM
So you think that the mayor that yells the loudest wins? I live in Westfield, was out for 5 days and I am back on and thankful. Is that the mayor's doing? Or the 10 guys from Missouri who busted their butts on 12 hour shifts to get our tangle of poles and wires upright and reconnected? The tree companies, the power companies (and the out of state help) and government is doing a pretty good job with what was the worst natural disaster in this area in our lifetimes. Fact - the power companies are are going for numbers - that is from the mouth of a PSE&G supervisor that was stationed outside my house for a few hours - if one pole can get 100 customers back online, they are going to fix that pole before the one that gets two customers back online. Somebody has to be last ... sorry if it has to be you, but it has nothing to do with the Mayor ... and I don't even like him ...
NewarkDirect November 06, 2012 at 04:33 PM
With respect to the 82% restored, take a look at the towns with percentage of meters out > 18%. Allowing that the utility isn't lying to the Governor, the towns over 20% are in the Union County area (Westfield, Roselle, Cranford, Summit) or have lots and lots of trees (Ridgewood, Maplewood, etc.) The tree/wire issue is evident and Coordination is key. We'd all like to get back on line. Mind your manners so you can be proud of yourself down the road. If you think you can do a better job drop your alias and stand up.
Kristen Pfister November 06, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Even with the loss of power and all that goes along with it. I am truly grateful and consider myself blessed that I was able to tuck my 2 babies into their own beds and kiss them goodnight through it all. My heart bleeds for our friends, extended family and fellow New Jerseyans that are denied that simple pleasure. It has been a very hard time for us all. I want to thank all the workers who have come from near and far. They are working hard for us under extreme conditions. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for leaving your family and your warm beds to help us regain ours!
Enough already November 06, 2012 at 06:31 PM
@Bill Maher: says "So our utilities get another pass on preparedness" Why not just go out and buy yourself a generator so that YOU will be prepared the next time and will stop complaining.
Ed S November 06, 2012 at 06:32 PM
No one complaining is whiney or believes they are "entitled." We get power because we PAY for it--that is not an entitlement. Since we pay our bills we want service and electricity, it is that simple. To those of you who say don't complain because others have it worse, that is not a real argument. Do you tell someone who has lost a leg to stop complaining because someone else is quadriplegic? Do you tell the paralyzed person to stop complaining because someone else has died? I do not wish ill on anyone, so don't tell me to be quiet because someone is worse off. Asking for our power back quickly from a huge utility is not unreasonable. Asking our mayor to be a good leader and advocate is not unreasonable. What is happening in Westfield after this storm is totally unreasonable. The ocean did not rise up and flood our town. An antiquated infrastructure with an unprepared and uncaring utility are to blame.
Enough already November 06, 2012 at 06:35 PM
@Jessica Blessing: you say "people get onto the patch to just complain while it seems that they do nothing." A more accurate statement would be that they have nothing to do and simply waste their time complaining.
Enough already November 06, 2012 at 06:37 PM
I have an updated and state-of-the-art infrastructure in my area - it's called a generator.
Enough already November 06, 2012 at 06:42 PM
@Dinkleberg: Why don't YOU run for mayor if you think Skibitsky is so bad. Maybe you should become the CEO of PSE&G too. You need to get out of the house and actually SEE what the problems are, instead of just complaining about them.
Bobby G. November 06, 2012 at 06:46 PM
I must agree. All our mayor has done is to become a submissive spokesman for PSE&G's endless string of failed assurances and self back-patting rather than putting pressure on them to get ALL of Westfield up and running again. Even if he was unsuccessful at such, the effort would have been wothwhile. Unfortunately, as the leading politiian in our town, it is inevitable that he will be accorded some of the blame for a job not well done.
Ed S November 06, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Home Owner -- that is just plain silly. Are you saying that when PSE&G is your provider, you better get a generator? Is that something PSE&G told you to do or did you figure that out yourself. By the way, does your generator give you heat, air conditioning and electricity for all your lights and appliances, or do you pick and choose? You must work for Westfield DPW or PSE&G to come up with such a clever comment.
Enough already November 06, 2012 at 06:47 PM
@Montana Jack: I wholeheartedly agree with you. I have seen a decline over the years in the number of people taking responsibility for their lives and an increase in those complaining about their miserable lives.
Enough already November 06, 2012 at 07:01 PM
@Ed S: It has nothing to do with PSE&G for me. Anybody with eyes can see the power wires snaking through trees. The simple formula: tree fails = power lines broken, kind of says it all. If electricity to your home is important to you,which I am sure it is, then prepare for the worst. Even a modest 6KW generator is only $500-$700 and will always be there for you in an emergency and will power the heat, sump pumps, refrigerator and some lights. And by the way, I don't work for the town nor PSE&G but have been through enough instances of power disturbances over lots of years (truck took out a pole one time, lighting got another one, transformer exploded, etc.) that I am prepared. Semper Paratus
Ed S November 06, 2012 at 07:15 PM
That's great Home Owner. So you agree the infrastructure is antiquated. We should all have underground lines. The generator you describe is not $500-$700; that kind of money gets you 1 furnace and 1 refrigerator and maybe a light or 2. If PSE&G did its job, you wouldn't need it. I have no problem needing a generator for 2-3 days. But over a week with another storm on the way???
Bill Maher November 06, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Home Owner @Bill Maher: says "So our utilities get another pass on preparedness" Why not just go out and buy yourself a generator so that YOU will be prepared the next time and will stop complaining. Just so happens we have a professionally installed generator system with the capability to power any circut in the house. Rather presumptive of you to think otherwise. The more I think about this the more I conclude maybe power/utility supply does not belong in the private sector. They don't seem to be doing a very good job of it even with the help of FEMA, Military, Police and Fire supporting their efforts at taxpayer expense.... BTW what's with the alias???? "HOMEOWNER" not confident enough to stand behind your opinions and let folks know who you are???!!!
Enough already November 06, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Antiquated in a relative term. Do you have any idea what the cost is to relocate the power lines, telephone lines, FiOS and cable TV underground? And add to that the big trench from the street to your house, and the unlucky homeowners that will have the distribution & transformer pad and panel on their front lawns? Totally impractical in a mature environment like we have here in Westfield. A generator for $500-$700 will easily power 60 amps for heat, sump pumps, refrigerator, TVs and enough lights for anyone. Do the math, mine works fine. But if you want a natural gas model with autoswitching and load balancing, you are in for $12K or more.
Enough already November 06, 2012 at 09:02 PM
@Bill Maher: If you really believe PSE&G would provide better service under the public sector, start a campaign to change it. But from what I have seen over the years, the government has difficulty running anything as complex as a power grid and being able to keep it within anything resembling a 'budget'. As for my alias, I have no problem letting people know who am I, provided I know who they are. Patch is too open an environment not to be using an alias.
Bill Maher November 06, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Home Owner says in part....."Patch is too open an environment not to be using an alias." Nonsense. You just don't have any confidence in your opinions... and of course, what other people may think of them....
Ed S November 06, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Hey Home Owner--do you know what PSE&G's profits were last year? $1,407 million!!! You are going to lecture me on what it costs to put underground cables in??? Don't worry, the cost is passed on to the consumer.
Jessica Blessing November 06, 2012 at 09:35 PM
@ Home Owner, I couldn't agree more with you.
Christina Weaver November 12, 2012 at 06:00 AM
My brother, sister-in-law and nephew's house was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy. They did not, to quote a writer "choose to own homes on barrier islands or any high risk coastal area..." Their house is in Westfield, It was crushed by a properly maintained oak tree, certified so by the tree surgeon. Why not go help some of the people whose homes were lost by the storm surge at Trembley Point, where the Arthur Kill meets the Rahway River? The mean-spirited tone of some of the writers here is disheartening. What kind of example is that to our children? Supposing the out-of state volunteers had decided to stay home and watch television because it was too inconvenient to travel not knowing where or if they would sleep. Endeavor to live responsibly by getting involved in helping people in Sayreville, Rahway, Belmar, Linden, Sewaren, Staten Island. Deliver Meals on Wheels. Be a literacy volunteer. Smile at someone. Practice a random act of kindness. You might discover that you feel better about your lot in life, if only for a minute. .


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