An Open Letter to the Bernards Township Committee

JCP&L is lying and the town is spreading its lies. Enough.

I sent this email to the Township Committee on Tuesday. I've heard nothing back yet. 

I have two major problems with your handling of the storm to date:

First, JCP&L is lying to you with its list of streets where work is allegedly occurring. And you are promulgating those lies to residents without any apparent effort to confirm what is actually happening. Thus you are apparently not holding JCP&L accountable, which is what I would expect you to do. 

Second, I have twice warned you of a matter of dangerous and serious liability for the township in my neighborhood with trees overhanging streets still -- nowhere near powerlines -- just as a nor'easter is coming, and the township has done nothing about it.

Days ago, JCP&L -- and you -- listed a number of streets as in progress. Then those streets were dropped off the list as if they were complete. But nothing has happened on them. They are still powerless. 

The streets JCP&L -- and you -- continued to list in the last few days that are near me have shown NO activity whatsoever. 

Now JCP&L -- and you -- and listing practically every street with downed wired in the town as if they being worked on. 

This is worse than meaningless. It is misleading. It is a lie. At a minimum, I would expect you to use just one city employee to verify what JCP&L is feeding you and you are feeding us. I would expect you to hold JCP&L accountable for the promises it makes and breaks. I would expect you to make some effort to give us accurate information. 

We have a right to accurate and complete information at a minimum. Anything less is an insult given everything we are going through. Home in my neighborhood are now falling below 48 degrees. They are uninhabitable. Yet families are in them. 

As for the dangerous situation in my neighborhood, on Deer Ridge Road, a day and a half ago, I disputed your assertion in your updates that township crews had removed every tree possible, every tree that was not touching a powerline. I informed you that there are trees on Deer Ridge that still overhang the road, presenting a serious danger of coming down on residents -- especially as another serious storm approaches. Nothing has happened. 

Here are photos of a few of those trees: https://plus.google.com/u/1/105076678694475690385/posts/BJsPDDE99yk

Let me note that as far as I have seen, the township has done *nothing* for Deer Ridge Road and the streets around it. My neighbors banded together with chainsaws -- and not inconsiderable personal risk -- to clear streets to enable us to get out. The township was informed *multiple* times of the danger presented by a downed utility pole blocking the road that prevented the township's own police and fire department as well as the gas company from getting access to a severe gas leak behind that pole. This also would have prevented police, ambulances, and fire from reaching any of us -- including some trapped seniors -- in the event of an emergency. We were told that JCP&L was being called to move that pole. But *nothing* happened. Finally, someone else went to the risk of moving that pole so we could at least be freed -- no thanks to Bernards Twp. 

We have been orphaned by you. We have received no services from you. You have prevented the police from being able to protect us; they had to run a quarter mile from that pole to respond to emergency reports.  

The street still stands in danger -- and thus the township still faces dangerous liability. 

We still do not have *any* reliable information on what to expect. 
I think one week without power, without services, and without reliable information defines patience. My patience is now utterly drained. 

I expect you to give us reliable information. 

I expect you to hold JCP&L and other utilities accountable for their service to us. 

I expect you to fix the dangerous situation on our street. 

I expect a reply, which I did not receive after my prior notice to you. 

Please help. 

Jeff Jarvis

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

CAM November 07, 2012 at 10:46 PM
Can someone confirm Hamilton Woods status? In Massachusettes and checking for family that live there - don't know anyone to contact there directly. thanks!
gary newman November 07, 2012 at 11:35 PM
the township committee is a joke---they should be embarrassed by whats gone on...i understand that the town of westfield held a conference call with PSEG that all the residents could dial in and listen to....long hill has nightly town meetings for the residents...bernards township? all we do is post 3 hr updates that are useless, meaningless and inaccurate. The mayor should have demanded a plan from JCPL when this first happened--and they should have shared it with us....even tonights update says that "they think there are workers in town working on the lines but they cant be sure"....stop the updates---they serve no purpose....its almost 10 days since the storm and very little has been done....incompetence is putting it mildly
Suzanne Asmar November 08, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Perfectly stated. After days with no electricity and many attempts to reach a human being at JCP&L I finally did, this was their response to my question to please give me an update...and I quote "We have no update, it could be another 7 to 10 days for those hard hit areas" When I said that was unacceptable I was told "Go to a shelter and be sure to pay my bill"!! Someone must be held accountable for the atrocious response to this storm. I believe that our local Government should be demanding answer and getting results. The ability to do the job when crisis hits and you are under pressure is the measure of a persons and company's strength, character and leadership. Clearly, our township committee is not up to the task!
Fred November 08, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Harding had a town meeting open to residents as well. No one is asking for preferential treatment, we just need information and to see that work is being done. In my neighborhood trees we have yet to even see a JCP&L truck and we are working on day 10.
Fred November 08, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Talk to the state Board of Public Utilities. I can understand JCP&L having priorities elsewhere but if our area isn't important to them then I think we need to have the right as a town to find an electrical provider that has ownership of problems in our area
Steve Carter November 08, 2012 at 02:40 AM
Hamilton Woods does indeed appear to have power.
Ken Ellis November 08, 2012 at 03:30 AM
Jeff, I think there's an easy comparison to make with PSE&G. Both have to publish daily restoration work plans. If we can get access to the record of daily projections, and compare to work actually performed, it will tell an interesting story. I think I can get that. The ability of a utility to manage storms is important, and I'd like to know if PSE&G is as lousy as JCP&L. Let the better service provider win, and collectively we do have a choice. However we would need to lobby the NJ Board of Public Utilities to allow us to switch. Many residents have opted to pay $7-10k for a whole-house generator (20% of their electricity bill over a service life of 20 years?), for the luxury of not having to deal with regular outages. I'm working from home tomorrow. NJ Transit and Lakeland Bus have no ETA on restoration of service to NY, and I'm tired of driving in to Secaucus and praying I can squeeze onto a NEC train. If you need a place to warm up we have power now, as long as extra weight of the snow doesn't bring down the tree that's hanging on the power line feeding our block.
Mark Josephson November 08, 2012 at 03:36 AM
Amen Jeff. Same nonsense in millburn. Only we aren't even getting detail on streets. Hope it gets better soon.
Karen Gray November 08, 2012 at 01:28 PM
I can't tell you how disappointing it is to read how the township has let our residents down in the this matter. My heart goes out to all residents stuck in this impossible situation. My comment relates to the township handling of these circumstances. Our street is not a through street and the tree loss here had limited impact road safety. Neighbors cut and removed most down trees and put them safely to the side. Nonetheless, last Saturday morning, eight BT DPW workers came to our street with three trucks and a chipping machine. While six watched, two worked, spending the morning removing Bradford pear branches that were NOT blocking the road. As Jeff suggested, some of these township employees could have been assessing the status of dangerous or trapped streets. This is situation is unacceptable. Our tax dollars fund the salaries of these individuals and the TC should have to answer for the bad management. I hope and pray that you all get power as soon as possible.
R V November 08, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Thanks to the JCP&L crew and to the Township who worked on finally getting the power back to Hamilton Woods and surrounding developments. Communication though is a big area for improvement in future calamities and emergency situations.
hfm456789 November 08, 2012 at 02:02 PM
I agree with everything Jeff has said and I too have been writing to the Township Committee without a response. There is a Committee meeting next Tiesday at 8 PM. I recommend everyone that can attend the meeting and voice your frustration not with the lack of communication and apprarant accountability of JCP&L. I have never attended a meeting but will this time as this is the third such storm in the last year and a half and apparantly the Township Committee has learned nothing.
EB November 08, 2012 at 02:17 PM
After ten days I think those of us without power are justifiably frustrated. How can JCP&L not know whether or where crews are working in our town? How can the town officials not have an ideas if any crews are working? We live in the center of town where there are four telephone poles that need replacing. For the past three days there has been a lone worker sitting in a truck next to the transformer that is laying on S. Finley. His lights are flashing and that's the extent of what's happening. Great use of manpower. Verizon trucks/workers replaced damaged poles on N. Finley last week. Verizon headquarters are in our town. Can't the town leaders appeal to them to get to work on our downed poles? At this point it's hard to imagine we will have power anytime soon.
MT November 08, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Thankfully 2 utility trucks just showed up on Deer Ridge Rd. new poles being delivered today. There is light at the end of the long tunnel. Does anyone know if Somerville road is open yet?
Janiene Losco November 08, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Well said, Jeff. Where's our government officials? Haven't heard anything from our mayor either. With the taxes we pay, we should have a better infrastructure for disasters. Feel like we live in a third-world country.
Naresh Punwani November 08, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Day 11 power! This an absolute disaster. The township committee, JCP&L should be ashamed of themselves and should be fired. Someone should contact the First Energy CEO Anthony J. Alexander and give him a piece of mind!
Joseph Ventrice November 08, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Give us info and we will plan accordningly. Untill then I will continue to hound JCP&L and the township. Ths is crazy.
cork November 08, 2012 at 06:06 PM
does deer ridge or kings ridge have power yet? where is betty?
MT November 08, 2012 at 06:33 PM
No power on Deer ridge or surrounding streets. Men are here working today.
Colleen Carter November 08, 2012 at 08:34 PM
I would like to attend the committee meeting next Tues. Where is it held? last I checked the municipal buidling didn't have power. While my neighborhood thankfully had power restored last night, I also wrote to the mayor and deputy mayor but no response. Not that I expected them to, but it helped to communicate my frustration with this awful situation.
Colleen Carter November 08, 2012 at 08:41 PM
I just noticed that next Tuesday's township committee meeting is canceled. Shocking.
LC November 08, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Hi Everyone. I live in Hamilton Woods and just got my power back last night - after NINE days. I know that almost half the town is still without. What a disgrace. I have nothing more to add to what's been said above, but I have an idea. Why don't we all plan to attend a TC meeting on the same night? One by one, we will get up and state our concerns and demands during the open session - I think it usually starts at about 8.
Laura Engelhardt November 08, 2012 at 09:18 PM
LE I live on Liberty Corner Road. We have not seen any utility vehicles working on our section of the street that remains closed. The road block at the intersection of Douglas Road and Liberty Corner Road has been moved several different times and drivers not realizing the road is still closed drive on through over top of the downed polls and lines.
Nancy November 09, 2012 at 10:16 AM
One word - PIKE !!! They are incredible. When they arrived 12 days later, it was apparent they knew what they were doing. They were knowledgeable, efficient and "managed" the situation with incredible expertise. Forget JCP&L and PSEG; I say lets get PIKE. They are ever expanding and just take a look at their stock.
cork November 09, 2012 at 05:51 PM
power anyone?
John November 09, 2012 at 06:38 PM
I'm thankful my family is safe and that my home has no damage. I have no electricity and last year was one of last to get power back. I live in Homestead Village. I was not prepared for this storm and was in panic mode by day 3 when food and gas was on my mind. Things are looking better now and I still have no power. I'm just thankful that my family is safe. This storm will wake me up to expect nothing from anybody. I'm 100% responsible for the safety of my family, nobody else. I can honestly say I don't care when electricity comes back. I do care about the elderly and young, these people deserve better from every stage of government but again we as people need to take care of them and not our government it appears.
claritas November 10, 2012 at 02:57 PM
I agree about PIKE!! Hooray for those guys!! But regarding the township committee, we are witnessing trickle down of conservative Republican platform. I imagine that next year the incumbents will stress again reduced expenses.
Sue Smith November 11, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Who is taking care of Lord Stirling Village? We have a property management co. that knows nothing, and does not allow generators: a utility co. that is leaving LSV until last as alway; and a township committee that is unreachable. All are uncommunicable. We have elderly people and children living there.
William Wilkes November 11, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Who is taking care of Lord Stirling Village? We have a property management co. that knows nothing, and does not allow generators: a utility co. that is leaving LSV until last as alway; and a township committee that is unreachable. All are uncommunicable. We have elderly people and children living there.
Todd Edelstein November 12, 2012 at 04:54 AM
@BRER, Funny you mention about how they need to meet. I had spoken to a committee person face to face on 10/30/12 and asked if the dump would be open during the week? Their response was that they were going to a meeting to discuss that subject. It was a question of manpower I was told. This is something that in a disaster plan would of been already set up, w/alternate sites in case of no access, like we had to deal with this time. I've said this many times at TWP Meetings, there are enough people in town who would volunteer to assist with cutting trees w/chainsaws, removal of debris blocking streets, man traffic posts to direct cars, etc. The town committee is not interested in volunteers to help out. Period, end of conversation.
Todd Edelstein November 12, 2012 at 05:22 AM
11/13/12 Meeting was canceled back in October due to a lack of quorum. I go to just about all the meetings and I believe that meeting should've been moved to a different day during that week. Years ago, there were twice as many meetings and they met on Thursday prior to the regular meeting on Tuesdays. If you are that pissed off, go to the next meet they have(I think it is 11/27), look into their eyes and let them know it. You only get 5 minutes to speak(it's timed) and more than likely, they will not respond to your questions or comments, but wait til they have their comment session to comment and dispute what you said w/o you having any chance to respond to their comments.


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