[Updated: 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9]
In a week of regularly shifting estimates for when power will be restored in Montclair, PSE&G said on Friday it now expects electricity to be back on for ninety-nine percent of households by Saturday.
However, “isolated outages” may persist in town for hard hit areas with power lines running through backyards, said PSE&G spokesperson Everett Scott.
“We will be done now we think, we are sure, sometime by tomorrow [Saturday] evening,” said Scott. “It still means there’s going to be isolated outages out there. ... We will get someone out there as soon as possible to get those isolated incidents turned on."
On Friday, eleven days after Hurricane Sandy, there remain 563 households without power, according to Scott. That number is down from about 2,200 customers on Thursday.
Scott emphasized to the council and Mayor Robert Jackson that Montclair, in addition to South Orange and Maplewood, experienced some of the worst damage in PSE&G’s coverage area.
He added that supplemental crews were in the area and making a “big push to have Montclair done tonight [Friday].”
If you and your neighbors still do not have power, send an email with those street addresses to email@example.com.
[Updated: 1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8]
In the midst of nor’easter Athena, the power company PSE&G managed to restore electricity to more than 2,000 Montclair households.
PSE&G bucket crews and repairmen competed with a steady stream of snow on Wednesday from Athena. On Thursday morning at the township’s emergency meeting, a PSE&G representative reported that 2,200 customers remain without power in Montclair -- down from 4,625 households on Wednesday.
“We dodged a major bullet,” said Councilor Rich McMahon about the severity of the storm. “[The storm] was relatively benign.”
However, the storm’s heavy snowfall did knock out power for approximately 30,000 customers in Essex and Passaic counties, said a PSE&G spokesperson. On Thursday morning, about 5,000 of those households remained in the dark.
In Essex and Passaic counties, there remain approximately 17,500 households without power -- down from about 440,000 at the height of the power outages.
PSE&G Coordinating with Township; Power Could Be Out For Another Week
Township officials are now working more closely with PSE&G to restore power to residents.
Beginning on Thursday, Business Manager Marc Dashield said that PSE&G is giving Montclair a specific “work plan” for where crews will be in town on a daily basis.
This is a stark difference from last week, when Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson -- in addition to various other mayors from surrounding townships -- criticized the power company for its lack of communication and coordination. [See below under Nov. 1 update]
With more than 90 percent of the total outages restored in the state since Hurricane Sandy hit, PSE&G spokesperson Everett Scott said the power company is “progressing in its restoration.” The main focus now, he added, is reaching those “smaller areas,” such as telephone poles running through residents’ backyards.
The majority of power outages continue to be in the north section of town -- near Watchung Avenue and Yantacaw Brook Road -- and the south section of town -- near Warren Street, Melrose Place and Virginia Avenue.
Jackson did confirm that crews were working in those areas today, and complimented their efforts during the nor’easter.
“The guys from Indiana and Arkansas were working in really horrendous conditions and they kept going,” said Jackson. “... They are really dedicated to getting the job done."
Scott however offered no new estimate for when power will be restored to those areas in Montclair.
“There is no magic signs or magic crystal balls we can use,” said Scott. “...This is a matter of people contacting us” about where power is still out.
Jackson suggested to residents that it could be nearly a week before power is turned back on in those hardest hit streets.
While PSE&G crews have restored many of the main power lines in town, Jackson said it will take longer for those residents to get electricity who have downed trees and wires running through their backyards.
“We were the most damaged system of any town in Essex County,” said Jackson. “Our system got completely destroyed, especially north of Watchung [Avenue].”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, will offer assistance to residents applying for federal aid at municipal hall, 205 Claremont Ave., at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 13.
[Updated: 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7]
Still burdened with the cleanup after Hurricane Sandy, Montclair is now bracing for Athena -- a nor’easter expected to hit tonight.
The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook for the tri-state area due to the impending nor’easter. Snow, sleet and rain are expected in Montclair today and Thursday, with winds predicted to be as high as 48 miles per hour.
The severity of the storm could deter PSE&G’s efforts to restore power to the 4,625 households still without power in Montclair -- down from more than 13,000 customers left in the dark at the height of the power outages.
PSE&G spokesperson Everett Scott said today that crews in the field will stop working if conditions become hazardous or winds reach more than 40 miles per hour.
“We’ll try our best ... to continue all the work ... to the extent that we can,” said Scott. “However, if conditions become hazardous, we will also pull our employees.”
Power Outages Remain
Restoring power to more than 4,000 households in Montclair will depend on where you live, said Mayor Robert Jackson at the township's emergency meeting today.
The majority of power outages remain in the southwest and northeast corners of town, and a PSE&G spokesperson said there is a “heavy presence” in those areas Wednesday.
Nearly 1,000 households were restored within the last 24 hours. Scott estimated yesterday that power would be restored to residents by Sunday, Nov. 11.
However, both Jackson and Scott warned the township is entering the most difficult process of restoring power: repairing wires in residents’ backyards.
Jackson cautioned that power will not to be restored by Sunday to residents in those powerless “pockets” where electrical lines run through backyards.
“There are going to be some pockets in those backyard jobs that are going to take a little while longer,” said another PSE&G spokesperson.
Jackson said those powerless pockets in Montclair are primarily due to the town’s topography and its many trees. Adding to the problem, approximately 40 percent of the town’s electrical network runs through backyards.
“You combine all those forces,” said Jackson, “we have a perfect storm of repair problems when a storm of this magnitude ... comes through.”
The power restoration effort is also facing unanticipated delays.
Township attorney Ira Karasick confirmed there have been impediments caused by residents denying PSE&G crews from entering their backyards to repair wires and telephone poles.
Jackson said the township will immediately address the problem in order to give PSE&G and emergency personnel “carte blanche” to enter backyards to make repairs.
Misinformation Coming from PSE&G
Many residents have complained PSE&G has called to inform them their power is back on when it is not.
According to PSE&G, these calls indicate that power has been restored to main electrical lines running nearby. Those calls are evidence of progress made by PSE&G, said Jackson, but added the power company realizes there are still many without power in those areas.
“Don’t panic that you are going to get forgotten,” said Jackson.
If you are receiving phone calls about restored power but you do not have electricity, call PSE&G at (800) 436-7734.
[Updated: 12:45 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6]
Power to Montclair homes is slowly being restored eight days after Hurricane Sandy, but there remain about 5,500 customers without electricity.
During Tuesday’s emergency meeting at municipal hall, Mayor Robert Jackson said power has been restored to various parts of Montclair since Monday, including Watchung Plaza and a main utility line on Park Street.
Everton Scott, spokesperson for the power company PSE&G, said that nearly 1,000 customers in town had their power restored between Monday and Tuesday.
Scott estimated that it could take until Sunday, Nov. 11, for all residents to have their power restored. The estimate has changed since Monday, when a PSE&G spokesperson said power would be restored by Friday for all but 500 households.
Many of the mainlines have been repaired in town, Scott added, but now crews will have to enter the most “tedious” part of the cleanup: repairing downed lines in residents’ backyards.
“We are getting to the point now where it is going to be painstakingly tedious work” to manually going into backyards and set poles, hang transformers and repair lines, said Scott.
“Everyone’s patience is going to be wearing real thin ... but we are out there. It is going to take a few days to get to those [backyards].”
Jackson assured more than a dozen residents who attended the emergency meeting that there were at least 25 PSE&G trucks working in town on Tuesday.
Moving Power Lines
The effects of Hurricane Sandy could kick-start the conversation of moving electrical wires to less vulnerable places.
Montclair residents who have power lines running through their backyards are consistently the hardest hit during storms and experience the longest outages, said Business Manager Marc Dashield. Montclair, in addition to South Orange and Maplewood, also has innumerable old trees which add to the problem.
While the main focus for PSE&G is restoring power in the short term, Jackson and Dashield said the township ought to think about moving telephone poles to front yards or placing wires underground.
The township “cannot continue to go through these extended outages” due to downed power lines, said Dashield.
“We have so much of our infrastructure that’s behind houses and in the air,” said Jackson, “that we really need to take a look at burying it. It is the only real way to protect it.”
Diesel Fuel Running Low
The township’s diesel fuel reserves are running “critically low,” said Dashield on Tuesday.
The township is utilizing the National Guard Armory in West Orange to fuel up municipal vehicles, which was opened late last week as a refueling center.
Gasoline for municipal vehicles is secure for now, said Dashield. The township received a delivery of gasoline within the previous 24 hours, and the Watchung Avenue pump station is also back online and is running on a generator.
[Updated: 12:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 6]
There are about 7,000 households that remain without power one week after Hurricane Sandy.
The vast majority of these households are located in Upper Montclair and north of Bellevue Avenue, said Mayor Robert Jackson during a conference call with the power company PSE&G at an emergency meeting with the council on Monday.
“Is there some ... reason why that broad swath of town is out?” Jackson asked a PSE&G spokesperson. “It contrasts in some degree with south of Bellevue [Avenue]. It is completely dark.”
A PSE&G spokesperson said there are crews currently working on telephone poles and wires in Montclair on Monday. However, the spokesperson said the restoration of Upper Montclair is proving more difficult than first expected.
"There is even more significant damage [in Upper Montclair] than other locations, so the work is slow,” the PSE&G representative said.
The spokesperson estimated that all but 500 customers are expected to have their power restored by Friday, Nov. 9.
Neither PSE&G nor the township were able to give any timetable for when those remaining 500 households will be back online.
“We cannot commit to any date,” said Deputy Mayor Robert Russo.
There remain 108,000 customers without power in Essex County on Monday, which is down from 440,000 at the height of the power outages. About 26,000 customers in the county had their power restored between Sunday and Monday, said a PSE&G spokesperson.
Residents Voice Their Frustrations
Many residents complained to the council and mayor about misinformation coming from PSE&G.
Belinda Plutz, a resident on Valley Road, is still without electricity, but she said that she has received automated phone calls from the power provider stating that her power has been turned on.
Plutz said that it is hard to trust PSE&G because the power company continually changes its timetable for when power will be restored.
“I can’t plan,” said Plutz. “... It is just a question of, 'What’s the plan?'" I don’t see the plan, and that is what is very distressing to me and my neighbors without power.”
“We are cynical now” about PSE&G’s estimates for when power will be restored, said another resident on Yantacaw Brook Road without power.
Jackson admitted that the township has had its own difficulties with the power company during the cleanup.
“[PSE&G] has not been forthcoming at all with respect to the chain of how they go through putting us back online,” said Jackson.
Russo also criticized PSE&G’s recent directive that incorrectly claimed all power could be restored during the weekend.
“It was a false expectation they created,” said Russo.
Township Focuses on Fuel
Fueling municipal vehicles is fast becoming an issue in town.
Business Manager Marc Dashield said Monday that while the township currently has fuel, supplies are diminishing quickly.
“We are really at the point where we are looking at contingency plans in case we run into a situation where we won’t have enough fuel,” said Dashield.
He suggested that if a fuel delivery is not made in the next few days, the township may be forced to conserve fuel by suspending municipal services -- such as trash and recycling collection.
[Updated: 1:15 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2] With 50 percent of Montclair homes still without electricity on Friday, the power provider PSE&G said it was working closely with Montclair’s Office of Emergency Management to get the town back online.
PSE&G crews are coordinating with township personnel to deactivate and remove nearly 50 electrical wires under felled trees and debris, said Business Manager Marc Dashield. Crews are currently focusing on clearing the highest priority roadways in town.
“Our crews are working with [PSE&G] to open up those roads,” said Dashield
While the power company’s crews are working in the area, Dashield warned, “If people see those trucks, it does not mean electricity is going to be turned back on."
Power is estimated to be restored by next Thursday, Nov. 8, said PSE&G spokesperson Everton Scott.
“We are trying to get customers on as soon as possible, but right now ... our date to get most customers on is Thursday [Nov. 8].”
The majority of outages is concentrated in the northern and southern parts of town -- south of Lincoln Street and north of Chestnut Street.
Crews were working to clear the following roads on Friday of debris and electrical wires:
- Orange Road
- Virginia Avenue
- Park Street
- Watchung Avenue
- Edgecliff Terrace
- Elm Street
- Highland Terrace
- Overlook Road
- Warren Place
[Updated: 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1]
The cleanup of Montclair is being hampered by a lack of coordination and communication from the town’s power provider PSE&G, said Montclair council members and Mayor Robert Jackson on Thursday.
In addition, residents may not get their power restored until Nov. 8, said PSE&G spokesperson Everton Scott. The original estimate for power to be turned back on was Nov. 5.
Four days after Hurricane Sandy, Councilors Renee Baskerville, Rich McMahon, and Sean Spiller, Deputy Mayor Robert Russo, and Jackson listened to updates from PSE&G on a conference call with various other mayors in Essex County -- including South Orange Mayor Alex Torpey and Bloomfield Mayor Raymond McCarthy.
Jackson said town crews are stuck waiting for PSE&G to disconnect nearly 50 electrical wires under downed trees and branches which are blocking major thoroughfares. He added the power company is not working with clean-up crews to best address priorities in town.
“I believe the policy you [PSE&G] are working on is a failed one,” said a frustrated Jackson to Scott during Thursday's conference call.
“You have mayor after mayor, [Office of Emergency Management] official after OEM official, saying, ‘We have no idea what you [PSE&G] are doing.’ ... I think you need to consider assigning a person with a crew to each of the townships and work together .... because we know what is important in our townships. It is pretty clear that I don’t think you [PSE&G] do.”
Chief of the Montclair Fire Department and Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Kevin Allen said emergency crews are doing everything they can at this point, but they are waiting on PSE&G.
“The main problem we have is getting public service to town,” said Allen. “We are doing everything we are supposed to do .... [PSE&G] does not seem to understand that their system is not working the way it should be.”
The storm caused more than 1 million customers to lose power -- with 275,000 in Essex County alone -- said Scott. PSE&G has called additional crews from as far away as California, and they are working as fast as they can to restore power, he added.
“There is ... massive destruction to our system,” Scott said.
In addition, Jackson, Torpey and McCarthy all emphasized that PSE&G has failed to inform them of where any crews are working in their towns or when they will be there.
Torpey said communication is lacking in South Orange, and the power provider appears to have learned little from Tropical Storm Irene and the October snowstorm last year.
“We need more information,” said Torpey. “I don’t get a response [to emails] .... I get a faster response on Twitter than ... going through the official government affairs channels and that’s pretty disappointing.
“We met last year after the storms and we talked about things that could be improved. Almost a year later: no improvement as far as I can see has been made.”
40 to 50 Percent of Residents Still Without Power
Approximately 40 to 50 percent of the township is still without power, said Business Manager Marc Dashield on Thursday.
Power restored to some parts of town on Wednesday, including the area near Grove and Walnut streets; the neighborhood surrounding Montclair High School; and homes around Grove and Dodd streets and Stanford Place.
The priority on Thursday is checking on the township’s elderly in nursing homes and senior buildings, said Allen.
Tree service companies have been called into Montclair to help with the cleanup and to remove large trees that fell on resident’s homes, said Dashield.
Outside tree crews removed four trees on Wednesday that had crashed into residents' homes, said Dashield. The crew is contracted in another township on Thursday, but will return to Montclair on Friday.
According to earlier police estimates, there were about 17 reports of trees falling onto homes in Montclair.
The storage of logs and other debris is also becoming an issue in town, said Dashield. A public work’s disposal yard is full, and debris will have to be placed in other places around town.
Montclair High School Could Be Opened as Shelter
Montclair High School may be used as a shelter over the weekend, said Dashield. More information is forth coming.
In addition, the municipal building is expected to remain open during the weekend for residents to recharge their electronic devices.
The main Montclair Public Library, at 50 South Fullerton St., is also open Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and a shelter will remain open there until 10 p.m. The Bellevue Avenue Library branch is open from 2 to 6 p.m. as well.
Halloween Postponed (Again)
Township Council is following the state's lead and asking that Halloween trick-or-treating be postponed to Monday, Nov. 5, between noon and 5 p.m.
YMCA on Park Street Opens Charge Center, Showers
The Montclair YMCA, at 25 Park St., is opening its doors for residents to charge their electronic devices and take a warm shower.
The YMCA will be open today and Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, call (973) 744-3400.
[Updated: 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1]
The Montclair Art Museum is offering free admission today, Thursday.
The museum invites the community to come in, get warm, and enjoy the galleries. The museum will close at 5 p.m.
[Updated: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31]
Decamp Bus Lines will be running buses on Thursday.
A representative said on Wednesday night that Decamp expects to run all of its buses on a modified schedule except the 66R from Roseland to New York Port Authority.
The Decamp website is currently down, but a representative said to call the station for more information about Thursday's schedule at (973) 783-7500.
[Updated: 6:20 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31]
Montclair residents without power could remain in the dark until Monday.
Business Manager Marc Dashield said on Wednesday the township’s power provider, PSE&G, estimates all power to be restored between Saturday and Monday.
“It’s going to be a long duration based on everything that [PSE&G] had,” said Dashield.
Dashield approximated that 80 percent of Montclair did not have power on Tuesday. Although power was restored to some areas of town, such as Mountainside Hospital, Dashield was unable to give an accurate estimate of those still in the dark.
The biggest issue in town, said Dashield, remains the innumerable wires pulled down by branches and felled trees -- especially those blocking roadways. The township is waiting for PSE&G to disconnect electrical lines before that debris can be moved.
Other Wednesday Updates
• Trash and recycling pickup will begin again on Thursday. Leaf-bag pick up however is canceled for the rest of the week.
• Senior and evening bus schedules have been suspended until further notice.
• The township is asking if you have tree branches to dispose of, place them on the curb and not in the street. They will be picked up after township crews finish clearing roadways of debris.
• The township will open the municipal building, at 205 Claremont Ave., again as a charging station on Thursday between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Stop by to charge up your cell phones and computers.
• The Montclair Council will hold two meetings about the storm cleanup on Thursday and Friday at 10 a.m. on the second floor of the municipal building, 205 Claremont Ave.
[Updated: 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31]
Public Libraries Open
The main Montclair Public Library, at 50 South Fullerton Ave., will be open today until 8 p.m. The library will also keep its Community Wing open until 10 p.m.
The Bellevue Avenue Branch Library, at 185 Bellevue Ave., is open today until 6 p.m. as a shelter and safe haven only. Library services will not be provided.
[Updated: 10 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31] The Montclair Parking Authority said parking rules are not in effect on Wednesday.
No decision has been made on whether parking rules will be enforced later in the week.
[Updated: 9:40 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31] Decamp Bus Lines announced this morning that it will be running service into New York on Wednesday.
A representative said the Route 33 bus into New York Port Authority is currently running on its Saturday schedule -- or leaving once an hour.
[Updated: 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30]
Township Opens Charging Station at Town Hall Wednesday
The Montclair Council Chambers, in the municipal building at 205 Claremont Ave., will be open for residents to charge their electronic devices on Wednesday between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Decamp Bus Lines will not run on Wednesday.
A representative from Decamp Bus Lines said that service will not begin again until New York Port Authority is reopened.
[Updated: 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30] A day after Hurricane Sandy rolled through Montclair, more than 80 percent of residents are reportedly without power.
The Montclair Township Council met for an emergency meeting on Tuesday at noon to assess the damage caused by the storm that has left the majority of residents in the dark.
Business Manager Marc Dashield warned residents that power may not be restored for up to seven days, according to the power company PSE&G’s estimates.
“It looks like it’s going to be a long haul,” said Dashield.
The biggest challenge, said Dashield, is clearing roads of felled trees and other debris. There are more than 100 trees down around Montclair and more than 50 roads blocked.
If any residents know of other streets that are blocked, let your neighbors know in the comment section below.
In addition, many of the felled trees and branches are tangled in electrical wires which prevents the township from moving them out. The township is waiting on the PSE&G to disconnect the lines before they can be touched.
“This is a storm of epic proportions -- I use a cliche but it really is,” said Mayor Robert Jackson. “[There is] unprecedented levels of damage regionally.”
Jackson said he not satisfied with PSE&G’s response to the storm thus far. He added that he is aware of few -- if any -- PSE&G trucks currently in Montclair.
The biggest concern, said Jackson, are those trees and branches tangled in electrical wires that cannot be moved until the lines are disconnected.
“To date,” said Jackson, “I have been less than enthused by PSE&G’s response in our town.”
Traffic Lights Not Working
There are many traffic lights currently without power, said Dashield. Police officers have been stationed at some of those intersections to direct traffic.
Some of the intersections without working traffic lights are:
• Valley Road and Watchung Avenue -- officer posted
• Bellevue Avenue and Park Street
• Bellevue Avenue at Grove Street -- officer posted
• Watchung Avenue at North Fullerton Avenue
• Watchung Avenue at Grove Street -- officer posted
• Grove Street at Orange Avenue
• Cedar Avenue at Orange Avenue
• Upper Montclair Avenue at Normal Street.
The council is strongly advising residents to not trick-or-treat on Halloween. The council suggested that Halloween trick-or-treating be moved from Wednesday to Saturday between noon and 5 p.m.
Many members of the council said the cleanup effort will not be anywhere completed by Wednesday, and that sidewalks and roads will still be blocked by trees and debris. In addition, the leaves on the ground could conceal electrical wires.
“We can’t mandate anything,” said Deputy Mayor Robert Russo. “We are just suggesting that people wait a few days.”
"We can’t have kids walking around with tree limbs down,” said Councilor Robin Schlager.
Trash and Recycling Pick Up Canceled
The council is also advising residents that trash and recycling pick up is canceled until further notice.
Residents are asked to move all tree branches and debris to the curb.
[Original post 11 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30] Hurricane Sandy has left her mark on Montclair.
Residents woke up on Tuesday to the mess that Hurricane Sandy left behind. Strong winds brought down electrical wires, trees, and tree limbs causing damage and fires throughout the town.
According to the Montclair Police Department, there were about 17 reports of trees falling onto homes, and one report of a tree falling on two cars. In addition, there were more than 30 reports of wires down, and at least 14 separate fires called in.
The power company PSE&G is estimating that 219,000 people in Essex County are without power, and 1.3 million statewide, according to the company's media spokeswoman Rena Esposito.
She was unable to confirm how many residents in Montclair had lost power due to the storm.
"We are still assessing the damage and trying to get our hands around what is happening,” said Esposito. "It's hard to tell" how many people in specific towns are without power.
However, many residents were reporting they were without power on the Montclair Patch Facebook page.
You can help your neighbors by telling them where there are road closures in town. Either post a comment below; upload a photo or video; or send an email to the Montclair Patch editor at firstname.lastname@example.org
To report power outages to the electric company PSE&G, call 800-436-7734. Updates on power outages can also be seen on the company's Twitter handle, @PSEGnews and @PSEGdelivers.
In case of non-emergencies, call the police department at (973) 744-1234, or the fire department at (973) 744-5000. To report an emergency, dial 9-1-1.