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Outages Expected to be Restored This Weekend, Locals Still in the Dark

Officials in Bernardsville and Bernards Township said they have had difficulty finding out when and where restoration is happening.

Jersey Central Power & Light announced on Friday that additional professionals and utility workers arriving in the state will return service by Saturday evening to the majority of customers who do not have power, including those who may have experienced new outages as a result of Wednesday's storm.

The announcement added that 168,000 customers within the state remained without power on Friday, even as about 100,000 had their power restored on Thursday.

Local officials said they lack information

In Bernards Township and Bernardsville, officials say they were frustrated by lack of specific information regarding power restoration.

"They can give us no specific information," Bernardsville Police Chief Kevin Valentine said at about 4:30 p.m. on Friday. He said he had been told that the borough should not expect to be fully restored by Sunday, a variation from information than what had been reportedly given to Mayor Lee Honecker.

The chief confirmed a report from a Round Top Road resident that the road still has several poles down along with no power. He said that the Twin Lakes area, Mount Harmony Road and Old Army Road were without power as of Friday afternoon, a dozen days after Hurricane Sandy struck.

In Bernards, Lord Stirling Village, Haas Road and northern sections of the township, including Old Army Road and Hardscrabble Road, remained without power, officials said. So did some pockets in The Hills.

Bernards Township officials, including Township Administrator Bruce McArthur said at a Friday morning update of emergency officials that there was a lack of information between the JCP&L and its contractors in the field.

The 5 p.m. update on the Bernards Township website said that JCP&L is "pushing for everything but isolated areas to be restored by midnight Sunday."

"We increased the number of crews to 200 who are working five circuits in the area," according to the afternoon's more specific communication sent to Bernards from JCP&L. The number of outages in Bernards was down to about 2,500 mid-day on Friday, according to JCP&L, down from about 6,600 a few days earlier.

The message from JCP&L, supposedly received at 4:41 p.m. on Friday, said that there was no good estimate as to when total restoration would take place in Bernards Township but, "rogress should be significant by end of day tomorrow [Saturday] as the additional resources hit the ground.

Bernards Township Schools, Board of Education and other facilities are in the system for restoration, the JCP&L message to the township said. "Depending on what circuit feeds which facility, they obviously won't be energized until the circuits are either repaired or rebuilt. Based on the circuit work accomplished so far, our system shows one of buildings has an ETR [estimated time of restoration] for tomorrow afternoon, according to JCP&L's Friday afternoon message.

The Friday statewide announcement from JCP&L said the parent company, FirstEnergy had brought in more than 14,500 professionals, outside contractors and utility workers to restore service to the state's JCP&L customers. 

The statewide announcement from JCP&L, and spokesman Ron Morano, said the Sunday goal will not apply to customers where service wires to individual homes must be replaced.

"Devastated areas, mostly in the barrier islands where crews were not able to begin service restoration until recently, will extend into next week," according to that announcement.

Gail Zawacki November 10, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Sandy's monumental storm surge has caused epic misery. However, the damage to coastal areas cannot explain the extent of loss of power inland. What is being ignored in this storm (and Irene also) is the real source of massive power loss - trees that are falling on the power lines. They didn't used to fall with regularity on people, cars and houses. The winds in both those storms were nothing that a healthy tree shouldn't withstand. Why are they falling now? 

The answer is obvious if you actually LOOK. They are all dying. Every species, every age, every location. Symptoms are broken branches, cankers, splitting lichen-covered bark, holes, thin crowns, early leaf drop, lack of autumn color, yellowed needles. Most foresters blame climate change drought and/or invasives, which doesn't fit the evidence. Native pests and diseases are rampant, and trees watered in nurseries exhibit identical symptoms. Most people don't realize, because it's invisible, that the background level of tropospheric ozone is increasing. Agricultural yield and quality are reduced, and trees exposed to cumulative damage are universally in decline. Scientists know that ozone debilitates plants, causing their roots to shrink rendering them vulnerable to drought and wind...AND impinges on their natural immunity to attacks from insects, disease and fungus. Most of the trees that fell during Sandy were rotted inside. Photos http://witsendnj.blogspot.com
Albert McFadden November 10, 2012 at 03:02 PM
They've "confirmed there are a number of Poles" down on Round Top Road? If any Bernardsville official didn't know that from day one they're off in la-la-land. Poles, wires, trees...you name it. This happened last year, the year before that, and with virtually every storm. It's insulting to mention homes that have had power going out after being restored, while the rest of us freeze on Roundtop with no power at all since day one. And we're being told the problem is "communication?" No, here's a news flash for you...the problem is ELECTRIITY on Round Top Road AGAIN,,, And you tow the JCP&L line that it's an "emergency?" NO...the first, second and third times may have been an emergency. Ever since JCP&L was purchased by Ohio based First Energy it became a business decision. They are deliberately underfstaffed to maximize profits. Every other townj gets more respect than Bernardsville. I wonder why?
BRER November 10, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Let's be fair for a moment and look at it with some common sense which is not common these days. On the topic of trees near utitlies, well, that is the problem indeed. This applies to trees which are rotten as well as some trees which are not. For instance, pines do not root deeply and they tend to fall over with wind much more so than other species. You see this quite readily in Bernards all over. Further, one cannot blame town officials or power companies if one has many overhanging trees near the power line in one's own property. On one hand, I think the town and the power company should have spokesperson in place respectively so that they can field questions and concerns, which has not be in place this time. On the other hand, we need legislation to remove potential damaging trees in a wooded town like Bernards. It takes couple trees to potentially affect the livelihood of hundreds of people. But we tend to let it slide until next storm comes and have reality hit our face again.

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