Wyckoff Mayor Slams Utilities' 'Disorganized,' 'Frustrating' Response
DePhillips: "They need to explain why things are taking so long, and why things are moving at a snail's pace."
In Wyckoff, where it is estimated that more than 3,000 families are still without power Sunday, the township's mayor expressed his lingering frustration with the response of utility companies.
Anger boiled over Saturday when the New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's office released a timetable revealing several utility companies' forecasts for restoring power across the state.
The township was listed on the timetable, which included only a timetable for PSE&G but not Orange & Rockland, but no restoration plans were revealed.
"This is outrageous," DePhillips said Sunday afternoon. "You can't not have crews here when people are freezing in their homes."
In an interview with Chris DePhillips Sunday, the mayor revealed that he had heard on Saturday that PSE&G had redistributed its resources to urban areas. He reached out to State Senator Kevin O'Toole that night to plead for help getting utility companies back into town, he said Sunday.
In an email obtained Sunday afternoon, Senator O'Toole's office confirmed to a Wyckoff resident conversations Saturday night between the senator and DePhillips, as well as between the senator and PSE&G Bergen County official Dave Hollenbeck.
"Dave assured the Senator that there would still be crews in Wyckoff working to start removing trees from town so that power can be restored as quickly as possible," the email from O'Toole Chief of Staff Al Barlas read. "While this has been a slow and frustrating process, I can assure you that the coordination occurring between your Wyckoff elected officials and our office has been constant and daily. Everyone is solely focused on getting crews into Wyckoff and getting power restored."
In addition to the senator's office, DePhillips said he'd been pressing the Gov. Christie's office for further resources.
"But you have to have crews on the ground," DePhillips said. "I've been on the phone all friggin' day with these people... we're doing as much communication as we can, [including] high-level conversations with utility officials morning, noon and night.
"The bottom line is ... this comes down to bodies," DePhillips said. "[The utiilty companies] need more crews. This is a private business and they need to staff up appropriately to get crews into our community."
Beyond the obvious losses and inconveniences for township residents, many local stores had lost more than a week of business.
"The business losses have been substantial, DePhillips said. "It's really terribly frustrating. "
According to the mayor, utility crews had not been spotted in between last Tuesday and Sunday morning, but this may have been because of the "disorganized" utilities' reluctance to tell officials where they were operating in town. As of Sunday night, however, a number of additional restorations seem to indicate that DePhillips's persistent prodding may have paid off.
The township provided a list Sunday of areas where power had been restored:
- West Main Street
- Parts of the Lakeview/Allison/Canterbury area.
- Parts of the area between Godwin Avenue, Franklin Avenue and Crescent Avenue.
- Parts of Sicomac area.
- Parts of the area between Crescent Avenue, Brookside Avenue, Franklin Avenue and Allendale border.
- Part of Midland Avenue/Burma and Deerfield area.
- The Christian Health Care Center.
- Parts of Franklin Avenue area from Godwin Avenue to the border with Waldwick and Barrister Court.
- Parts of Hickory Hill & Merrywood area.
- Parts of Lawlins Road.
- Parts of Pathway Manor/West Shore Drive area.
- Franklin Avenue from Godwin to Wyckoff Avenue
- Cornerstone Church
- Spring Meadow Senior Community
- Wyckoff YMCA
PSE&G representatives told DePhillips about 600 customers could expect to be returned to the grid between Sunday and Tuesday: 166 on Sunday, 215 on Monday and 223 on Tuesday.
Orange & Rockland township officials that 1,400 could expect to be back on by Wednesday.
DePhillips requested representatives from both O&R and PSE&G at the Wyckoff Township Committee meeting on Monday at 7:30 p.m.
He is requesting that the officials be on have to brief the committee and public on where they are with power restoration.
"They need to explain why things are taking so long, and why things are moving at a snail's pace," DePhillips said.
PSE&G representatives have told DePhillips that someone will be on hand, but no one from O&R has yet confirmed attendance.
DePhillips said that no serious hospitalizations or injuries have occurred since the storm ripped through the township last Monday. He was unsure of how many residents here had been displaced by Hurricane Sandy.
He did say, however, that there have been an increasing number of carbon monoxide calls received by the Wyckoff Volunteer Fire Department this week as residents have become increasingly dependent on gasoline-powered generators.
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