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Westfield Post-Sandy Update for Thursday, Nov. 1: What You Need to Know

Westfield public schools remain closed Thursday, Nov. 1 and Friday, Nov. 2.

As residents and local businesses struggle to recover from the devastation of Sandy, the Town of Westfield is asking everyone to be patient as recovery efforts are underway.

According to the Town of Westfield, approximately 50 homes sustained damage from uprooted trees or fallen limbs and 90 percent of the homes in Westfield lost power.

While PSE&G said they have, “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, the restoration of power could take days to possibly weeks. 

Rumors that water supplies will be cut are false, said Mayor Andy Skibitsky in an updated message to residents issued Wednesday evening. (See below)

The Conservation Center is expanding its hours today and tomorrow to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Access is from Rahway Avenue only.

Krauszer's on Central Avenue and Bohemian Raspberry on South Avenue East have power and are allowing customers to charge devices. 

Kings, Pathmark, and ShopRite in Garwood all have power. 

The Westfield Memorial Library will open at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. The library has heat and Internet service. 

The following is an update from Skibitsky:

  • 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.
  • Hurricane Sandy left unimaginable devastation all across New Jersey in its wake.  To reiterate, though Westfield was spared flood and water damage, the 70+ mile per hour sustained winds caused many trees and heavy branches in town to fall, blocking roadways and bringing live wires down.  Approximately 50 homes sustained damage from uprooted trees or fallen limbs and over 90% of the homes in Town lost power. I have been, and will continue to be, in contact with PSE&G regarding restoration efforts.  According to PSE&G, they have, “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.”  Nevertheless, due to the extent and severity of the outages across the state, PSE&G reported that it may take days and possibly weeks to restore all power.  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 can assure you 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. 
  • The Town has all its resources mobilized to deal with the aftermath of the 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.
  • Westfield schools will remain closed through Friday, November 2.
  • 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.
  • There is a false report being circulated that “Union County is shutting off water.” 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.)
  • Again, I want to thank all of the Westfield residents who prepared for the storm so well, heeded the warnings, and sheltered with their families in their homes.  I am certain that your cooperation saved lives.  I know I can count on your continued cooperation and patience during this critical time.
Pete November 01, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Simple question: is anyone from PSEG even in town working yet? The mayor repeating the same message every day is NOT an update.
Marilyn November 01, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Are there any open gas stations?
rosemary November 01, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Are there any open restaurants in town? Rosemary
Elizabeth Alterman (Editor) November 01, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Hi Rosemary, Ferraro's South is accepting pick up orders-the number is 908-233-9777. Xocolatz is open today. The number is 908-232-3962. Bohemian Raspberry at 219 South Ave E. is open and serves coffee and frozen desserts. I'm hoping to compile a list. Many downtown restaurants are still unreachable as of this morning.
Elizabeth Alterman (Editor) November 01, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Hi Pete, from what I've heard, six substations in Westfield have been affected. The substations need to be repaired before neighborhood and street-level service is restored. At this time, PSE&G hasn't provided a schedule. I wish I had more information for you.
Sal November 01, 2012 at 01:48 PM
I was able to locate 2 open Gas Stations in Linden yesterday afternoon towards the Goethals Bridge on rt. 1&9. 90% of Westfield has lost power since Monday and as of today, Thursday we are still at 90%. I don't see any progress and I haven't seen any PSE&G workers in Westfield since the power outage. Target and Shoprite have no bread or milk. Why aren't they receiving deliveries? How about making it mandatory for the gas stations to have backup power?
Sal November 01, 2012 at 01:49 PM
The Westfield diner was open yesterday.
Elizabeth Alterman (Editor) November 01, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Hi Sal, I appreciate these updates. Thanks, Liz
CN November 01, 2012 at 02:23 PM
A&P in Clark was open yesterday, pretty well stocked, not too crazy.
Seneca November 01, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Liz, thanks for the updates. Is it possible to have a front page update with timestamps so we can quickly see what is "new" to your readers? Or can you color code new updates vs. the outdated info from the Mayor (doesn't seem a lot has changed). Also, Gary has created a crowd-source map that might help residents know when power starts coming back on and what stores are open in their area. http://snipurl.com/westfield-power-2012 It only works if people know about it and start using it. Can you help publicize? Surrounding towns have their mayors updating their Facebook page with great info but our Mayor has a private FB page and the updates from the town are infrequent in comparison. Thanks.
Elizabeth Alterman (Editor) November 01, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Hi Seneca, great idea. Here's the link to the story: http://patch.com/A-zkQ1 Please feel free to pass it around. Unfortunately, I can't color code stories, but each should have a time featured at the top beside the "email the author" link. Also, for updates, please follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/WestfieldPatch and Twitter at https://twitter.com/WestfieldPatch . Thanks, Liz
Jonathan November 01, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Garwood Shoprite does have bread and milk. Seems pretty well stocked overall. You just have to be patient waiting through the gas line for the Hess station on North Avenue.
Elizabeth Alterman (Editor) November 01, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Thanks, Jonathan. That's good to know. I appreciate the update.
Julie fisher November 01, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Xocolatz is open!! And their are no crazy lines at the door, home cooked favorites, just what my family needed
Pete November 02, 2012 at 02:38 AM
If there are six substations out, how is it possible at this stage that they don't have a running order for substations and therefore a concrete number that they can provide? Saying another week plus is very different to saying "the substations are expected back online by this date and from there local work will begin". People (most of them) aren't stupid, they can understand information when it's provided but failure to provide anything more than a blanket moving target is unacceptable at this stage. They said a week. Then they said 2. In another week they could say a month. Having a proper answer to the most basic questions, people would be able to make appropriate arrangements. Why does everyone think "we don't know" is an acceptable answer?
Pete November 02, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Course, PSEG reported earnings today. "PSE&G’s results were affected by an increase in transmission revenue. An annualized increase in transmission revenue of $94 million effective on January 1, 2012 added $0.03 per share to quarter-over-quarter earnings." Transmission. The thing they're failing at right now.

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