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After 9 Days Without Power, NJ Residents Fume Over Utility's Response

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Tree down as the result of Hurricane Sandy in Ridgewood, NJ. (Elizabeth Zagroba)

Nine days after Sandy slammed into New Jersey, more than 360,000 residences and businesses in the state still have no power — and half of them are customers of Jersey Central Power and Light.

After Hurricane Irene last year, JCP&L was rebuked for leaving some customers without power and heat for more than a week and for having poor communication.

Now, some are saying the utility company has been performing even worse in the aftermath of Sandy.

JCP&L restored power to 1 million customers by Wednesday afternoon, and still had about 179,000 without power. The utility’s most recent estimate was that power would be restored in some areas by Friday and others by Sunday.

"It's sort of this big mystery,” said Union County resident Archie Gottesman. “Who's deciding where the trucks are going? And who's deciding what gets fixed first? And is it just this mad scramble?"

Gottesman has watched her neighbors’ power restored as she remains in the dark. Her children’s school has been closed for 1-1/2 weeks.

JCP&L spokesman Ron Morano said the company is working to serve every customer, but that it has been challenging because Sandy packed such a powerful punch.

"This storm caused the most severe damage we've ever seen," Morano said. "We don't discriminate by county or region. We're all over working on this restoration effort."

As the Nor'easter rolled into the region Wednesday, the utility planned to continue working until the winds reach 40 miles per hour.

Some parts of Morris County expected up to six inches of snow, which could bring down more overhead power lines.

"I understand how difficult this has been," the utility’s president, Don Lynch, told New Jersey 101.5 FM on Wednesday. "Do I wish we could have every last customer in today or yesterday? Absolutely."

Since Hurricane Irene, JCP&L has made a strong push into social media and now uses Twitter and Facebook. It also upgraded its outage map so customers could look up specific streets to see whether power was back on.

Nevertheless, customers continued to question the utility company's ability to restore power and communicate effectively Wednesday both on the ground and on call-in shows in New Jersey.

It appears to me that JCP&L is a very unorganized organization," Mike Mathis, police chief for the town of Berkeley Heights, told WNYC. "I'm very, very, very disappointed."

As the snow began to fall Wednesday, the looming question was how big of a bite the nor'easter would take out of the work that had already been completed and where the number of outages would stand Thursday.

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Comments [9]

Chris from Warren nj

Ron morano senior public relations manager for JCP&L is a shithead!
He better lose his job!

Nov. 09 2012 12:25 PM
Susan Alai from Morris Township

JCP&L is a travesty. Last year when Irene left us 7 days without power one would hope that they would have taken action to remove dead and dying trees. No such luck. When I called them on Sunday the junior level staffer told me it was going to be 7 to 10 more days (from Nov. 4). When I explained that my husband is a cardiac patient being released from the hospital on (last) Monday she said "Mam' if you are concerned about your husband's health I suggest he remain in the hospital. Obviously not an option and no help. Her supervisor left a recorded message for me saying essentially the same. People are critically ill all over the state and this can't be good for their health. What does JCP&L and Gov. Christie suggest as this situation drags on? Is it true the real repair date is now Thanksgiving?

Nov. 08 2012 12:11 PM
tom from Brooklyn

HERE'S A TOPIC THAT ISN'T GETTING MENTIONED: YORK COLLEGE / CUNY IN JAMAICA QNS - WAS BEING USED AS A SHELTER FOR PEOPLE WHO NEEDED A PLACE TO GO BECAUSE OF SANDY...

today - Thurs is the first day back for York/CUNY students... for about two weeks - the school was part of a huge effort to help people in that area - esp. from the Rockaways... this story should be told. I teach at York and I have seen the people sleeping on campus... the cots... their supplies etc. Red Cross workers etc.

How will the govt help them now that York CUNY is back in classes - that's a big question. York College - a CUNY 4 year college - has plans to keep helping the evacuees by moving them to other parts of campus

Nov. 08 2012 10:28 AM
Joe P. from Readington township

Day 10, still no power, per there web site, 1st estimate Nov 5, then Nov 7, now Nov 11.
Total INCOMPETENCE,
when is the Fat man in Trenton going to start penalizing them?

Nov. 08 2012 08:16 AM
Rich from Stanhope, NJ

I agree, its not the field personnel, its those giving direction
The quality of leadership is poor, for example, I spoke to a couple crews about what they're doing and they said when one job is done they may wait 4 hours before they get direction on where to go next. The guys spend half their shifts on the phone with dispatch. This is why nothing is getting done and we're freezing.

Nov. 07 2012 11:35 PM
Joel from Warren

Mr. Tucker, Where is the "upgraded outage map so customers could look up specific streets to see whether power was back on". If you state that "x" is availiable, please provide us with the means to find "X".

Nov. 07 2012 10:31 PM
Mel from Morris County

We still have power lines on the street. This is totally unacceptable. Chris Christie should resign. He is not a leader. It is freezing. Moreno should be brought up on criminal charges. They charge so much for power and they don't maintain streets so that we are 9 and counting days without power. Christie resign and Morano thrown in jail!!!! Oh and Christie got his power back today!!! He should turn off his power until everyone is the state is back.

Nov. 07 2012 10:17 PM
Sara from Long Valley, NJ

JCP&L should be ashamed of how they are handling this situation. There is no way to contact them to find out what is going on. There are only automated messages. We are going on day 10 with no end in site. We pay your salaries. You better get this resolved and fast.

Nov. 07 2012 09:55 PM
Steve Rubin from Morris County, NJ

After holding for 30 minutes this morning, I finally got to speak to a live person at JCP&L. The woman was very sympathetic, what else could she say? I told her I just wanted to know WHEN the lights would be back on in Roxbury but she said no one knows that information.

I have to conclude this monopoly has total disdain for its customers, or they are the dumbest administrators on the planet. Do the trucks just drive around aimlessly looking for downed wires?

It is not the field personnel, but rather, the people who formulate the disaster response. JCP&L publishes data on three of their websites, and none of the data is consistent. If they had to compete like all businesses, they would be gone in short order.

Shame on you JCP&L and First Energy Corp. for violating the public trust. Tell us the truth, because we are telling you the truth...you are the worst!

Nov. 07 2012 08:58 PM

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