Friends and neighbors,
In the 4th Ward, Councilman Loughlin and I have much to be thankful for as nearly all our streets have power returned. Our friends on Shadowlawn were restored this evening but we remain hopeful for our neighbors on Pierson who remain in the dark this evening. We are with you Pierson Street and collectively hopeful that you will be through this soon.
I sat with Mayor Skibitsky, Senator Kean, Assemblywoman Munoz, our chiefs and a number of members of our council including 4thWard Councilman Keith Loughlin. I was encouraged by the broader outlook of progress but disappointed in the setbacks encountered by PSEG. Log on to www.westfieldnj.gov and listen to the audio of the call.
As I type this email, I am for the first time in 8 days one of fortunate that has lights and heat. One third of our elected representatives remain in the dark tonight as do our Chiefs of both the police department and fire department.
POWER – I was disappointed to hear from PSEG that rather than an increase in the numbers of homes with power, they have actually regressed. While the substations and transmission stations have all come online, only 20 of 28 circuits in town have been restored. You have heard and are living the great disappointment and frustration as many that were returned to service in the last day, have again gone dark. PSEG was able to explain that due to safety concerns of the line workers, they in certain circumstances must de-energize whole circuits to perform additional work in returning pockets of town to service. This may happen in various areas of town so please do not take your power for granted. Continue to be prepared for blackouts by keeping flashlights handy and turning your heat up a notch or two to keep your families warm if there are additional extended outages after a service return. Of Westfield’s 12,400 PSEG customers, there are approximately 3,700 PSEG customers in our town still in the dark tonight. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers and continue to extend your generosity to those that remain in need of our support.
PROPERTY DAMAGE – 70 streets remain blocked by wires, poles and transformers and this continues to be the greatest concern of our public safety professionals. Do not cross barricades or areas marked with caution tape. Police regularly patrol the streets and remove the blockades as PSEG advises them when the areas are safe. DO NOT REMOVE BARRICADES OR CAUTION NOTICES ANYWHERE IN TOWN. This is dangerous for others and should be left solely to the discretion of PSEG and our public safety professionals. We suffered massive devastation to our homes with 108 residences suffering damage, 13 garages demolished and 13 homes deemed uninhabitable (5 of those in the 4th Ward). Note that the United Fund will be establishing a local relief effort and I will provide further information tomorrow about how we can help those that suffered the greatest loss of property.
SCHOOLS – Schools are closed again tomorrow November 7th. Decisions are made by the Board of Education on a daily basis. BOE President Rich Mattesich advised at tonight’s meeting that safety of our 6300 school children is the top concern of the BOE. Also, please note that while schools are closed, so are the BOE fields. Please abide by the decision of the BOE and remain off the school athletic fields until the BOE has deemed that the safety of our children is not compromised. Halloween is still suspended but I am hopeful that we will divest ourselves of the candy that we have hidden from our children for the last two weeks.
PUBLIC SAFETY – The police have advised that there is no increase in crime attributable to the storm. Our police officers continue extra efforts at patrol of our streets but all residents are encouraged to call 911 if they spot any suspicious activity. All calls are taken seriously and responded to promptly by our outstanding police officers.
NOR’EASTER – The weather reports vary as to the severity of the impending storm. Secure personal exterior belongings and make the safety of your family, your paramount concern. For those in greatest need, Freeholder Mirabella advised that the County shelter continued to operate in Cranford at the Community Center located at 220 Walnut Street, Cranford. If you are unable to drive to the shelter, please call (908)654-9881 and the County will arrange for a ride. The facility is equipped for overnight stay and is pet friendly. Jefferson School also continues to be a 24/7 warming station for those that need a brief respite from their cold homes.
Tonight you should have confidence that your Mayor and Council and State Representatives continue to advocate on your behalf. We have one mission at this time and that is to make sure that PSEG does not leave until we are all online.
I encourage you to do three things:
1. Secure your belongings at the exterior of your home in advance of the possibility that another storm could be coming our way.
2. Check on your friends and neighbors that are still without power and make sure that there needs are addressed.
3. Our police, fire and DPW workers as well as our rescue squad have been working around the clock for more than a week. Take a moment and if the situation allows, make an extra effort and say THANK YOU. They have all gone above and beyond the normal call of duty and deserve an expression of our appreciation.
If you think I can be of assistance or something should be brought to my attention I encourage you to reach out. I may not be able to respond immediately, but will get back to you as soon as I can.
Thank you all for keeping your chins up, reaching out a hand to help you neighbor and maintaining the sense of decorum that makes Westfield such a special place. Thank you all for again making me proud to be from Westfield.
James M. Foerst
Westfield Town Council - 4th Ward