About 10K Without Power Late Sunday
Mayor hoping JCP&L crew can start working on submerged substation soon.
More than 10,000 Morristown-area residents remained without power around midnight Sunday after floodwaters drowned a JCP&L substation on Ridgedale Avenue—but the number appeared to be dropping.
Mayor Tim Dougherty couldn't be reached at that hour, and earlier in the evening could not provide any new information regarding when Morristownians would see power restored. But he did say the water on Ridgedale Avenue was receding.
Dougherty reported earlier in the day that JCP&L had hoped to restore power to much of the residential areas of town by sometime Sunday night, by rerouting power from the submerged substation. At 6:30 p.m., about 11,500 customers in Morristown were still without power, down from about 15,000 earlier.
Several commenters in Patch's live chat on the storm said late Sunday they were beginning to see power come back in Morristown.
"It's a waiting game," the mayor said earlier Sunday, regarding the receding floodwaters. "We've got to clean up trees, water damage, a lot of pump outs [from flooded basements]. So we're going to have a lot of clean-up all week."
Many trees had also fallen throughout the town as a result of Hurricane Irene, including large trees in front of The Presbyterian Church in Morristown, Vail Mansion and on Vanderpool Drive, where a 200-year-old tree crashed into a home there.
The entire town lost power Sunday morning. Dougherty said that even if power is restored to residences Sunday night, businesses in the area between the TD Bank on South Street and the Morristown Green could be waiting much longer.
A JCP&L spokesman said early Sunday the outage was caused by "unprecedented flooding" at a substation in town. Morristown Medical Center was operating on emergency backups Sunday morning, but the company was able to restore power before noon. A spokesman reached later at night couldn't provide specific updates on the Morristown situation.
Dougherty said the water on Ridgedale Avenue had pulled back enough by Sunday evening that he was able to see a couple of workers at the JCP&L substation.
"Our residents need their power back. Hang tight," he said. "We'll get it all cleaned up this week."
Floods got so bad from the hurricane as to cause mandatory evacuations for some residents.
Much of Morristown's electricity is supplied through underground electrical generators, a system that has made headlines several times due to problems–including a recent transformer failure outside Walgreens on South Street, which produced thick plumes of smoke for several hours.
Dougherty said Saturday—ahead of the storm—the underground pits where the electrical equipment is located are designed to have water, but acknowledged, "we don't know the outcome. I don't think we've dealt with this significant amount of rainfall in this amount of time."
Sunday, he advised residents to stay inside if possible, but said a shelter at Morristown High School was available for those who needed to leave their homes. Red Cross workers at MHS said things had been going smoothly all day. Dougherty urged extreme caution traveling.
Several roads in town were unpassable and closed off Sunday. Martin Luther King Avenue was completely underwater Sunday morning. And floods at the nearby Manahan Village complex and Beverly Apartments sent residents in that area to Morristown High for a mandatory evacuation.
"Oh my God. I've never seen it like this before. Ever, ever," said Michael Pooler, the town's planning board chairman and a 15-year resident of Morristown.
Robert Hackett, a resident said floods approaching Manahan Village and Beverly Apartments have never before been so wide, and never prompted an evacuation.
Chris Diaz and David Guitierrez, residents of the complex, said they couldn't remember any flooding this intense either.
Diaz said a few years ago, rainwaters were enough to send some locals into boats. But he pointed to a playground on the corner of Flagler Street and Clyde Potts Drive, he said, "This is crazy. Do you know how deep this is?"
Gutierrez stood looking at it the flooding with his daughter. They used to live in an apartment on lower ground in the same complex, but had moved to one higher up in recent years.
For that, he said, he's grateful.
Some or all of Ridgedale Avenue and Spring Street were blocked as well Sunday morning, though most areas immediately around the Morristown Green remained open at that time.
Morristown police said around noon that Washington Street in the area of Burnham Parkway had been reopened.