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Mayor: There Are Five Utility Crews and Missouri Power Working in Westfield

Mayor Andy Skibitsky, whose home also is without power, says he understands how an inconvenience becomes "quite a hardship."

The following message from Mayor Andy Skibitsky was posted on the Town of Westfield's website after 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2: 

It’s been four days since Hurricane Sandy hit our state with, in the Governor’s words, “breathtaking” consequences. Like many of you, I still don’t have power in my home, so I fully understand that what began as an inconvenience when the power initially went out increasingly becomes quite a hardship with each passing day. I have been, and will continue to be, in contact with our County and State officials, including the Governor’s Office, as well as PSE&G directly, several times a day regarding restoration efforts. According to the Governor’s Office, approximately 2.5 million people lost power as a result of the storm and 1 million people have had their power restored. I know that the figures from the Governor’s Office offer little comfort when you are sitting in the dark, but it does point to the magnitude of the damage to the infrastructure across the state caused by the historic storm. I can assure you that our concern for our residents and businesses and their needs have been made very clear.

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. As I write this at 6 p.m., there are 5 utility crews from PSE&G and Missouri Power working in Westfield. 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 or working at a substation out of town. The crews will be working into the night and every day.

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.

  • The Governor has signed an Executive Order to ease the lines at gas stations. Effective at noon on Saturday, November 3, even registration numbers may purchase gas on even days and odd registration numbers may purchase gas on odd days.

  • The Conservation Center will be open Saturday and Sunday, November 3 and 4, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Residents do not need a permit to bring organic storm debris from their property to the center. People have asked me how they can help clean up the town. The best way to help would be to organize the neighbors on your block to transport as many leaves and as much of the organic storm debris to the Conservation Center. Also, clearing debris from storm sewer inlets would be a tremendous help. Please stay away from downed wires though. For your safety, assume all wires are live.

  • Please remember to vote. Voting will take place as scheduled on Election Day, November 6, at your regular voting place. Polls will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Also, citizens may take advantage of early voting at the Union County Clerk’s satellite office in the Union County Administration Building, 300 North Ave., Westfield on Saturday and Sunday, November 3 and 4, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for voting. Contact the County at 908-654-9859 for further information.

  • The Town is in the process of planning a one-time town wide curbside cleanup of storm related branches and twigs. Once all the outstanding storm related issues are addressed, we will set a date when such a cleanup will begin.

  • The recycling contractor picked up as many curbside recyclables as was possible this past week. If your pick up was missed, you may bring your bundled cardboard and commingled glass and aluminum to the Conservation Center or you can hold on to it until your next scheduled curbside pick up date.

  • The Department of Public Works is cleaning up all the downed trees and storm debris that have no power line involvement. (The Department of Public Works cannot remove any tree or branch that has wires near or embedded in them. PSE&G must first deactivate the power source.)

  • The Westfield Memorial Library is open during the day and on the weekends (Sat., 9:30 – 5:00, and Sun., 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.) 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.

  • A 24/7 charging station is available in the lobby of the Public Safety Building at 300 North Ave. West, Westfield.

  • Provided power to the schools is restored, schools will be open Monday through Friday of next week, November 5 through 9. Please note that the schools were originally scheduled to be closed on Thursday and Friday, November 8 and 9, for the annual teachers’ convention. That convention has been cancelled and schools will be in session on those days, again, again provided there is power. Please contact your school for more information.

  • New Jersey American Water is asking its customers to voluntarily conserve water indefinitely as many of the company’s facilities are operating on emergency generators. According to the company, “Voluntary water conservation reduces the demand on the water system while it operates on backup power.” I want to emphasize that the water company has not issued any boil water advisories.

P drama November 03, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Thank goodness. Finally, the utility shows up. One crew last night and a few more today... Mr. Mayor, the five trucks you reference only showed up today....two or three days late.
dave November 03, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Given the extensive damage, and the storm predicted for Tuesday, I hope the mayor has asked whether those crews will stay here until the job is finished and whether more crews are coming.
Michelle S November 03, 2012 at 02:36 AM
I just posted a blog today on Patch about the huge tree blocking the main road (central ave) in and out of Westfield and how all the trees and lines on the detour roads that were down on Tuesday are still down!
David Adler November 03, 2012 at 02:48 AM
The Mayor has a tendency to point the finger solely at PSE&G and avoids taking any responsibility whatsoever for this mess. There is much more to do in Westfield that involves services to be provided other than by PSEG. What is the Westfield Public Works doing right now and why isn't it partially assisting in the clean up and tree removal effort? It would be nice if instead of the usual platitudes, a plan was laid out for restoring power. Perhaps it would also make residents feel better if the Mayor indicated that he had a better understanding of the timetable and when the first steps would be taken to remove the trees covering the major streets other than to tell us that there are 5 utility crews in Westfield.
monica November 03, 2012 at 04:00 AM
Obviously no one knows about the downed wires lying across the road of the 500 block of Coleman place or the factthat you can't get to north ave via Dudley ave
LAM November 03, 2012 at 07:56 AM
Would like info about Wesfield DPW plans for free removal.
tb2k November 03, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Because there are no wires entangled in those trees.
Mike November 03, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Don't let those crews forget about Wychwood gardens area
Suzanne Offen November 03, 2012 at 01:15 PM
What about Westfirld Ave Those wires have been dangling all week off South Ave
Mike November 03, 2012 at 01:23 PM
What percentage of Westfield has gotten its power back? Shouldn't they be able to tell us this? I am being given a restoration date of next Friday. Is there any chance it could be sooner?
Scott Steinbrecher November 03, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Please Correct!!!!! The gasoline rationing is based on license plate not registration numbers as it states in the source article: http://newbrunswick.patch.com/articles/gas-rationing-to-begin-saturday-nov-3
Pk November 03, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Can someone please comment on why the 2 schools with power are not being used as a warming center and information hub. My sister n law is a principle in another school district and her superintendent had her open the school each day this week for the town to use.
Elizabeth Alterman (Editor) November 03, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Hi Pk, I have reached out to Mayor Skibitsky and a member of the Board of Ed to find out if this is a possibility and hope to have an answer soon. Thanks, Liz

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