Thousands in North Jersey weather new storm without power
TRENTON — The pressure is on JCP&L to restore power to over 29,000 customers as a second winter storm in less than a week dumps more snow on the outage area.
Powerless customers in Hunterdon, Morris, Sussex, and Warren counties face the prospect of going through Wednesday's storm, which could drop up to a foot of heavy, wet snow, without power.
JCP&L's outage map shows those four counties with the most outages from Friday's storm.
"The storm is a real wildcard for us. We've restored 190,000 customers so far from the first storm. We'll know more Wednesday afternoon what our impact is going to be in terms of both numbers of outages and times of restoration," spokesman Chris Eck told New Jersey 101.5.
Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said the wind will not be as strong during Wednesday's nor'easter with gusts of "only" 30 mph with intense snowfall of up to a foot.
"Unfortunately, the combination of strong winds and heavy snow will likely cause additional power outages." Zarrow said.
Eck said crews will work through the storm, but they can't go up in a bucket to make repairs when the winds hit 40 mph.
Gov. Phil Murphy said he knows many folks are frustrated about the time it's taking to fix the outages, "and that included me."
Murphy said there were some good reasons why there initially was a lag in fixing problems, namely the high winds, and blocked roads from downed trees, "but yeah, I share some of that frustration. I think they're working hard. I'm not an expert in the power business, but I think if we had a longer runway, maybe positioning equipment, maybe reaching out earlier to the utilities that have augmented the staffing."
The governor said he expected to do a post-mortem on the storm "and figure out what worked and what didn't work."
Murphy came under criticism for not declaring a state of emergency for the first storm, which would make it easier to share resources.
"It’s blatantly obvious residents living in Republican counties are not a high priority for this governor," said GOP Hunterdon County Assemblyman Erik Peterson. "The governor is holding a press conference (Tuesday) about the next nor’easter, when he still hasn’t declared a state of emergency to help towns affected from Friday’s storm.”
Customer Jenni Tyers, of Califon in Lebanon Township, said in an email that she hasn't seen a power truck yet.
"I'm a single mother of two kids in school, work two jobs, and have four cats and two bunnies and a frozen goldfish in a house with no heat," she said. "I have a family that's trapped in their house because there are live wires and trees down over (the) driveway. And help can't get there because roads are closed to get there."
Another Chalifon resident, Marilou Piechowski, was also without power since Friday. "I have not seen any JCP&L truck. We have a well, so we have no water, no heat, we have nothing.
A message for Lebanon Township mayor Mike Schmidt has not yet been returned.
Eck defended JCP&L's response to the storm and said the first nor'easter caused restoration issues into New England.
"That was just the nature of this storm. It was sort of the perfect storm," with strong winds bringing down wires and trees there too.
JCP&L crews' restoration process involves starting at the substation and working their way out to the end of the circuit, where Eck admitted that those located the farthest out may not have seen a truck yet.
"But we're coming. There could be 100 places where their line is broken between the substation and their residence or business," he said. "All of those locations have to be visited and fixed before we can restore service to them."
Eck said 3,900 extra personnel from out of the area will stay in New Jersey until service restoration is complete.
David Matthau contributed to this report.
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