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Message from Mayor Skibitsky: Thursday, 11 p.m.

Mayor says PSE&G crews are working in the area.

The following message was issued by Mayor Andy Skibitsky at 11 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1:
  • 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.
  • PSE&G crews are working in Westfield.  Please be assured that if you do not see a truck on your street, it does not mean that PSE&G is not working in town or working on a substation to restore power to the power grid.  Over 2,250 Westfield customers have had their power restored as of 9:00 a.m. Thursday (11/1) morning. 
  • I have been, and will continue to be, in contact with PSE&G every day regarding restoration efforts.  PSE&G has “assembled a ‘virtual army’ of over 1,550 technicians -- 600 PSE&G workers and 950 workers from across the country -- plus an additional 600 contractors to cut and remove trees.”  In addition to restoring the power lines in Westfield that were dragged down by the fallen trees and limbs, 6 PSE&G substations around the region that service Westfield must be repaired and brought back online.  I cannot emphasize enough that I, along with your State representatives and Governor Christie, are advocating on your behalf.  It is understood that being without electricity may be a major inconvenience or hardship, but please keep in mind that the time it will take to get all power restored is not due to a lack of concern or effort, but rather due the magnitude of the damage to the infrastructure caused by the historic storm.
  • Please remember that 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 and then a tree service contracted by PSE&G tends to the tree.
  • The Westfield Memorial Library is open during the day 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. 
  • Westfield schools will remain closed through Friday, November 2. 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, provided there is power.  Please contact your school for more information.
  • There is a false report being circulated that the water supply will be shut off.  This is a rumor, it is absolutely not true. (Westfield is serviced by New Jersey American Water and I have been in direct contact with the company to verify that this report is false.)
  • 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.  The request to conserve water is being made only to lessen demand on the treatment and distribution systems that are operating on back-up power.
  • The Conservation Center will be open Thursday through Sunday, November 1 through November 4 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Residents do not need a permit to bring organic storm debris from their property to the center.
  • 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. Contact the County at 908-654-9859 for further information.
Pete November 02, 2012 at 12:54 PM
2250 were restored? Yet somehow PSEG now shows >10k outages in Westfield where before it only said 5-10k. Awesome math, lies or gross stupididy? You choose.
Curt November 02, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Hillside Ave is blocked from Lawrence to Highland. There's 8 houses completely cut off and inaccessible due to trees down on power lines near Highland, and again near Lawrence. The fire dept came by yesterday and said if someone's house catches fire, it will simply burn because they have no access. There are young kids on the street and in our house. Our house has a massive tree on it and we're worried about further collapse from the weight and wind. Tree guys can't touch the trees blocking the street until PSEG clears the power lines, and we can't get a crane in to lift the tree off until the street is clear. I understand there are many in need of services and others with greater need than ours. Mayor Skibitsky - have you considered simply cutting the power lines in certain situations to circumvent the opaque PSEG process and help your citizens who are in dire need? Are there any other blocks completely cut off in Westfield? Does anyone have any true understanding of how long it will take PSEG to get its trucks to local blocks in need? Westfield's fire dept is still on generator power, so my guess is it will be another week at least before we see a PSEG truck anywhere near our house.
Ebnj76 November 02, 2012 at 01:27 PM
No one I know has the power in Westfield. Can we hear from someone whose power been restored as of 11/1? I'm sick of mayor regurgitating the same info to us since day 1. The town looks like a war zone with the trees down all around. How about at least getting pseg clearance for down'd wires and asking residents to help with the trees. I'd personally volunteer if it means getting power back sooner.
marco November 02, 2012 at 01:40 PM
You are so right Pete. What is the Mayor talking about? No power was restored, people with light never lost it to begin with!!!! City Hall should stop misleading and do something for Westfield, 90% power loss in one town is not a joke.
Renee November 02, 2012 at 02:42 PM
And how precisely does the Mayor suggest that we "contact [our] school for further information?" In case he has not noticed, the school phones are not working, at least for my child's school. Nor is the school district's website functional.
Mike November 02, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Maybe miscommunication or an error online? You're quite the conspiracy theorist there Pete. How about instead of being an armchair commander and accusing people of lies you get out there and help out your neighbors and those that are trying to get your power back?
Seneca November 02, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Professional landscapers are clearing leaves off their customers lawns. I suppose they are entitled to use their gas in any way they see fit but given the shortage of gas right now, is this really an essential service? I know they can't bill for the week if the properties are not cared for but it just seems odd to watch large trucks drive around with leaf blowers and mowers when DPW, police, first aid squads, fire departments, people who need generators to run life saving equipment in their homes, etc., are unable to secure additional fuel. Could the mayor issue a ban on general landscaping until gas becomes more readily available?
steven sacks November 02, 2012 at 04:03 PM
I'm sure that downtown will get their power back first. Any idea when that will happen?
Doogie Howser November 02, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Onthe contrary, my power was restored last night.
David Adler November 02, 2012 at 05:44 PM
I have seen no progress in Westfield in the last few days. Central is still closed; Broad is still closed; Mountain is still closed. What is the Mayor talking about???? In contrast, crews frantically worked and opened the major streets in Clark and Garwood (it even looks like a street sweeper went through Garwood - something that is alien to Westfield residents). The Mayor should stop giving us the same old BS and actually use some of the big tax dollars we pay Westfield to get the Town's act together. My prediction is that it will take another 10 days before we see power. This is simply unacceptable and we should all remember this when we go to the polls if this guy decided to run for reelection.
Mike November 02, 2012 at 05:53 PM
PSEG did not properly plan for this storm and did not bring in an adequate # of out-of-state workers to assist. Now everyone is suffering because they are so delayed in responding to towns like Westfield. I know that there are additional available out-of-state workers that they can get to expedite the restoration of power. We need to put pressure on the mayor and other state elected officials to put more pressure on PSEG to restore our power.
Brock Stephens November 02, 2012 at 06:06 PM
there are only "sightings" of PSEG trucks, yet they have "assembled an army"...please. 3rd storm in the last 18 months that the town has lost power for a significant period of time. And this time is worse already and they're predicting a snow storm for next week. My house has a 40 foot tree being suspend by power lines and not one agency person has been there to even inspect it. Trees still block the surrounding blocks and we only have one way in and out. All this, but for the most part life is going on as normal in towns right next to us.
marco November 02, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Good for you. Let`s not forget that pseg is not the red cross, it`s a private company that makes million of dollars selling us energy; perhaps they should hire more technicians out of state to help fix this disaster, on a second thought i forgot it costs money they are not willing to spend. Secondly why don't they get in ground the electric cables, there u go again, it would cost money and it less expensive to leave millions without power during an emergency and fixing the problem in 2 estimate weeks. It will happen again and nobody is talking about how to prevent this.
Susanna November 02, 2012 at 06:15 PM
How about bodies are being found in Staten Island, people down the shore lost their homes, and the places/things/people that they love. You people should be grateful. A massive hurricane rolled through the tristate area; you shouldn't expect nor demand power immediately after.
Elizabeth Alterman (Editor) November 02, 2012 at 06:17 PM
Hi Renee, the Town of Westfield quotes Westfield schools superintendent Margaret Dolan as stating “We will open (Westfield schools) as soon as is humanly possible. Without power we really can’t." I wish I had more information for you. I will update our site as soon as we know more.
Brock Stephens November 02, 2012 at 06:20 PM
no one here is expecting immediate results and everyone is sensitive to all those effected more greatly than we have been. But the fact of the matter is there doesn't even seem to be any movement at all. There has been nothing but talk and little action.
KJP November 02, 2012 at 06:21 PM
If PSE&G can not even clear the downed wires from Central Avenue, what chance do the rest of us have?
marco November 02, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Yes we are grateful and we pray for those who have lost, but that does not entitle pseg and our politicians to downgrade millions of people with small children and elderly living in the cold and the dark. For the same principal because people are starving in Africa we should never act to remedy real immediate problems at home.
WF Parent November 02, 2012 at 06:29 PM
I have been staying in Metuchen and have watched trees get moved and power come back on around here. I have heard about so many towns where power has been restored. I went back to westfield yesterday and it looks like absolutely no progress has been made. Trees are still blocking main roads and power seems very far off. Why is Westfield being ignored?
Elizabeth Alterman (Editor) November 02, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Hi Steven, I understand Jeffrey's of Westfield will re-open at 4 p.m. I have just spoken with Sherry Cronin, executive director of the DWC, who was told Nov. 11th as a "worst case scenario" for power being restored to downtown businesses. Many businesses are trying to open with flashlights, during daylight hours, Sherry said.
Ryan D November 02, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Living w/o power can't even be compared to what some are going through. That being said, I've run the entire town over the last 3 days and it's a disaster - I just cannot see any meaningful improvement for another week at least. They would have to bring in an army of men and equipment and shut down all the streets that are open now to get this done. What the mayor should be concerned about is shelters - the temps are dropping into the 30s overnite this weekend and we have the potential for another big storm next week (imagine what 6" of snow would do right now). And one more thing - why has there been a cop at Central and Grove since Monday nite, car running, sitting there, not directing traffic (there's no power at the light), just burning fuel? Couldn't we accomplish this with a barricade? Not the cops fault I'm sure - but really does anyone know?
Ed S November 02, 2012 at 07:38 PM
I agree with what most people have said--there is absolutely no evidence that anything is happening in Westfield!! Central Ave. is still closed and there are downed wires on Boynton and many other streets. PSE&G has maintained an ancient infrastructure in Westfield; what do you think happens to old wooden poles and trees when a storm hits hard? The mayor is a typical politician who asks us for patience and congratulates himself and his co-workers for the "great job" they are doing. Meanwhile, we are all suffering. The only activity I have seen in Westfield is hundreds of cars lining up to buy gas from our gas stations that are still open.
steven sacks November 02, 2012 at 07:42 PM
At this point what we really need is reliable information, e.g., Westfield will have power back by x. We all understand that restoring power under these circumstances is a massive job, but if we knew a date certain we could deal with this a lot better.
Elizabeth Alterman (Editor) November 02, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Hi Steven, I agree-knowing that an end is in sight is a small consolation. I've reached out to PSE&G and haven't heard back. I have also reached out to the Town Administrator daily via phone and email and have not heard back. I wish I could provide more answers. As soon as I hear anything, I will update this site. Thanks, Liz
South Westfielder November 03, 2012 at 02:12 AM
We've heard from our mayor and councilpeople, but where are our Union County Freeholders? Let me guess, in Plainfield, Elizabeth? The towns that pay the lion's share of the taxes are being ignored.

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