Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | November 6, 2012

Westfield Town Hall – Complete Notes

The take-home message: no school Wednesday, with decisions made on a daily basis. Power will be back on within 7 days (worst case scenario) and everyone is on the situation.

MAYOR SKIBITSKY

They’re advocating on our behalf and won’t stop when all electricity is restored. Please be patient.

BOARD OF EDUCATION – RICH MATTESCH

Continue to be closed through Wednesday, and is solely a result of safety concerns. They talk daily with town officials to make sure they’re making informed decisions. They want kids in school just like parents, but they want 6,300 students to be safe to/from school. Police chief Waymon checked out routes to each school today and determined not all kids could get to school safely.Still have 70 closed streets, felt it wasn’t safe to open schools. When safety isn’t compromised, they’ll open them. All but Wilson have normal power. They are concerned with 180 days, and they’ll figure out what to do later. Listen for daily updates on Honeywell. They’ve had requests to just cancel school for the week, but they won’t do that, because they want to have some kind of normalcy. Closure will be determined on a daily basis.

School fields are closed as well, and coaches should not hold practices there.

If your child can’t get to school safely once opened, or are out of town Thurs-Fri, they won’t be penalized.

Jefferson Elementary is available as a warming and charging station. No beds or food available.

FREEHOLDER AL MIRABELLA

Union County Shelter is available. It’s at 220 Walnut Street in Cranford. No reason to be home, cold without power. Rides are available. Call 908-654-9881 to arrange for that. They have meals and beds, and are pet-friendly. Salvation Army is there.

FEMA is in County OEM building in Westfield. Operating 24/7. 800-621-3362 or www.disasterassistance.gov. National Forest Service sent 30 members to Union County; they’re getting dispatched around the county for tree removal.

Warming/charging station at Froelich building on North Ave, Westfield.

Storm isn’t as bad as originally predicted, but it’s coming. Starts Wed morning going to night. Rain and snowy mix, ½ to 1” precipitation, lower than originally reported. It may even bear off more to the east, into the ocean. County crews are working 24/7 to help county residents.

PSE&G

They’re sympathetic to our pain and suffering to this unprecedented catastrophe. They understand how unpleasant it is to be out of power in this cold.

Goal is restoration of all 2.2 million customers in 236 town service area. Restored 5,800 of the 10,000 Westfield customers originally interrupted. Still about 3,700 Westfield residents out of power. 300 restored today. 700 linemen, but 3,200 out of state crews here. Need to pay attention to safety.

28 circuits here – 16 working last time we spoke. Today 20 are working. There will be fluctuation in numbers. You have to cut power to work on it safely. They can’t take care of individual cases above others because it slows the process down for the whole system. Not all the work is visible to residents. They are doing everything within their power to respond to the many concerns voiced.

The vast majority of people will be restored before another 7 days goes by, but that’s the worst case scenario. Depends on the nature of the outage and circuits serving your house so they can’t make predictions – they don’t know the exact reason for every person’s outage. Don’t overreact, some will be restored sooner.

Unintended consequence of doing requested work plan is that if a town isn’t on the list, they use fair and foul methods to get their towns up higher, using political muscle. The mission is to get everyone back on as quickly as possible, and this delays the process. Individuals with one tree down affecting only your house, it’s a bummer, but you’ll be at the end of the process. They need to get the bulk of the people up first.

Statewide PSE&G has restored 87% of residents. Westfield isn’t alone and isn’t forgotten. Lots of big old trees down around town, and that’s a lot of work and only one customer gets restored when they do it.

As for why the town can’t remove trees with wires, electrical workers need to deal with the wires in case they’re live. They can’t get to each one promptly.

The numbers of outages are going down steadily in Westfield. This is not about politics, but working the electric system. They can do the work in the next down that serves Westfield and we wouldn’t see them.

If you don’t have service still, PSE&G’s recommendation is to keep checking in. As they restore a circuit and your neighborhood has power, they think you have power. So call in every few days especially if you see work in the area and nothing happens.

BOARD OF PUBLIC UTILITIES – CHRISTIE MILLER – LEGISLATIVE LIAISAON

They ensure all state have safe, reliable and adequate service. Efforts have been highly coordinated at the governor’s request. Public and transparent work report made. Everyone is working tirelessly. Governor is coordinating all state agencies to make sure the restoration goes as quickly as possible. PSE&G has been working tirelessly. Currently they have almost 4,000 crews from out-of-state and more are coming in. Transmission lines and substations are mostly restored, so progress should start going faster.

SENATOR TOM KEAN

They’re on it, they sympathize, blah blah blah.

ASSEMBLYMAN JON BRAMNICK

They’re focused on this problem like a missile. The trucks are here, they’re not leaving. It’s slow, but happening. The governor indicated more help is coming in. We’ve gotten our fair share of response in this area.

TOWN ADMINISTRATOR

70 roads in town closed. They’re as a result of downed wires, poles or transformers. They need PSE&G to help with those. They have a comprehensive list updated daily. No road forgotten. 13 homes are uninhabitable. 82 structures need permitted work because of damage.

Westfield United Fund is opening Hurricane Sandy relief fund tomorrow to help affected residents.

FIRE CHIEF KELLY

Avoid walking or driving through barricaded streets. Don’t run fossil fuel appliances in your home and have a working carbon monoxide alarm in your house. Attend burning candles. Several close calls with candles and carbon monoxide.

POLICE CHIEF WAYMONS

Increased patrol through town, but there hasn’t been increased crime during Sandy aftermath. Don’t take down caution tape or barricades. Police monitor these situations and will remove the barricades when they’re not needed.


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