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As NJ Recovers from Sandy, Officials Call for Patience

Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty said those without power still have to be prepared to wait 7 to 10 days.

This area is now in its recovery phase, but that doesn't mean we're out of the woods.

That message, from Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty, who said Tuesday about 75 percent of Morristown is presently in the dark.

"It may look like we have power because our downtown has power, but we're in the same boat as many," he said.

That powered up downtown, where many businesses had opened for eager customers Tuesday, survived where many residential neighborhoods did not because of heavy winds knocking many trees onto roads, across power lines and into homes. Much of Morristown's downtown is powered via underground generators, which failed during Irene last year when JCP&L's Ridgedale Avenue substation succumbed to flooding from the Whippany River.

One bright spot from this year's storm, "our substation was not compromised," Dougherty said.

In Morris Township, where about 90 percent are without power, Business Administrator Timothy Quinn said their first priority is getting power back up at two sewer plants,on Florence Avenue and Lake Valley Road.

While presently fully operational via generators, Quinn said, "those really are only for the short term."

Hundreds of trees are down in the Township and "a number of roads are completely blocked by trees," he said. "Where we can remove trees, we're working to get those roads open."

Certain trees, those entangled with power wires, cannot be removed until JCP&L addresses those lines, Quinn said.

Those power lines and the need for people to avoid them was emphasized by Dougherty multiple times. "A downed wire is a dangerous wire," he said.

While Morristown was especially hammered in 2011 by the one-two punch of Irene and the October snowstorm, much of New Jersey is facing "unprecedented" recovery efforts as a result of Hurricane Sandy, he said.

Dougherty said residents still need to be prepared for long outages, possibly seven-to-10 days. While Morristown may have a lot of outages, he noted about 2.5 million households—62 percent—are out of power in New Jersey as a result of the storm. Many areas, including Hoboken, Jersey City, Atlantic City and New York City, have been dealt horrendous circumstances.

"It's obvious resources will not be coming here first," he said.

Still, both the mayor and Quinn said they have communicated with JCP&L, who are presently evaluating how to move the recovery effort forward.

"We may have 75 percent of our power out, but a lot of our neighbors have 100 percent of their power out," Dougherty said.

Morristown Police Chief Peter Demnitz said police staff is presently doubled and are currently working on 12-hour shifts. The town's Office of Emergency Management continues to be open and will be throughout the recovery process. Anyone in need of contacting them should call 973-292-4884. Power outages should be submitted at 1-888-LIGHTSS. For true emergencies, call 9-1-1.

Police Capt. Steven Sarinelli said no injuries had been reported during the storm. The chief said there had not been any crimes reported Monday night during the storm, either.

"Hopefully, people took heed," he said.

That has been repeated multiple times since this weather event began and was spoken of again Tuesday. "Use common sense," Dougherty said, adding that wind gusts could continue to knock down trees and power lines. "If you don't need to be out, don't be out."

Those without power but with a lot of questions, however, can stop by Town Hall, where an information table is set up for the remainder of outages.

Even with answers, residents will need to be prepared for a long wait for satisfaction. "We're working dilligently, as fast and as safe as we can," Dougherty said.

"We have to be patient," Quinn said.

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