Some 4,198 Washington Township residents woke up, again, to no electricity Wednesday morning and meteorologists are calling for a storm that could dump several inches of snow on the ground by day’s end.
Utility provider Jersey Central Power & Light has crews working in the municipality, and will work until conditions become unsafe, according to the company’s spokesperson Ron Morano.
There are currently 5,000 linemen working in New Jersey to restore power, with anywhere between 200 and 500 more arriving Wednesday.
“Based on the damage in certain areas, like Washington Township, it’s been a rough process,” Morano said. “We’re making every effort to get as many people online (before the storm comes). This has been a labor intensive project.”
Percentage-wise, Washington Township remains at the top of the county’s list of residences in the dark. With those outages comes downed trees and power lines, which will likely impede clean-up efforts from today’s storm, according to Washington Township Department of Public Works Superintendent Scott Frech.
The storm is expected to begin before noon Wednesday and end around 7 a.m. Thursday, Frech said. DPW personnel, which have been working non-stop since Sandy hit the area, are gearing up for another potentially long night.
Frech said the crews’ equipment will be ready for whatever the Nor’easter brings, but will need to prepare for obstacles.
“We can’t take a plow through an area where there are down (power) lines,” Frech said as a safety issue. “So in those areas we’ll have to just salt the area and let it run its course.”
Frech said his crews will be using smaller plows to avoid power lines and remaining roadway debris, but he’s optimistic snow accumulation on roadways won’t be severe.
Failure to Communicate
As most residents know and have felt in the past nine days, power restoration has been an arduous process, to say the least.
The system has run differently this time around, as compared to last year’s late October snowstorm, according to Frech.
With so many out-of-state workers coming to unfamiliar territory, local coordination and communication was imperative, Frech said, but lacking.
“Last year, by day four, those tree crews were following our lead on where to go and what to do,” Frech said. “This year has been different. We had one crew last week making progress on a road, and they were pulled off the job and sent to do work in Warren County.”
Frech said he feels some of the workers should be staged locally and staying in town as they did last year, but that isn’t the case this time around.
The first days after Sandy, communication between foremen and tree-cutting crews with the town was going well, Frech said, but dropped off significantly last Friday.
Like the residents driving around town seeking answers, Frech said he checks the same heavily-damaged areas every morning on his way to the office, but sees little to no improvement each day.
“We’ve done so much and I’m so proud of our guys and the work they’ve done,” Frech said. “But it’s just been a really frustrating process.”