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:
- URGENT: Please 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.