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Bivona: Orange & Rockland Not 'Up to the Task'

"The response [from Orange & Rockland] is slow and the results are not good enough," the mayor told residents Saturday.

Nearly a full week after Hurricane Sandy sank households across New Jersey into darkness, many Franklin Lakes residents are frustrated over being still without power.

Mayor Frank Bivona wrote to borough residents Saturday in an effort to assuage worries that utility companies were ignoring their needs here.

"I have heard from many of you and I understand what you're going through since I live in the same community, without power, heat and water," Bivona wrote in a town-wide email blast. "I can assure you that the borough and many, many volunteers are working very hard for you day and night. 

"As for Orange & Rockland, many of you feel that they have not been up to the task," Bivona said. "I would agree. The response is slow and the results are not good enough."

Bivona said that despite complaints that O&R crews were not in town, he assured residents that they were.

"Mostly they don't say O&R on the truck because they are hired tree service companies — but they have been here clearing wires and cutting trees," Bivona said. "And they have been doing work on transmission lines and sub-stations outside of town as evidenced by the fact that about 32 percent of our residences now have power, up from less than 10 percent."

Last week Bivona told township residents that 75 percent of homes were without power.

O&R told residents that all homes in Franklin Lakes would be back online by Nov. 11 at 11:30 p.m., Bivona said, but "recently, we see these dates are changing to more specific restoration times for various areas. I'm not sure if we can rely on these estimates but they may be a good indication of progress."

The mayor also said that O&R said they would attempt to restore power to borough schools before Monday, but gave no guarantees.

"Based on past storms I can tell you that areas where there is heavy damage to poles and wires will take much longer than those with power service underground," Bivona said. 

Residents have expressed concern about the level of pressure borough officials are putting on utility companies, but the mayor said there were constant calls and emails being sent to O&R "at the highest levels to ensure they understand our priorities," Bivona said.  

"We have also contacted several levels of public officials throughout New Jersey for assistance," he added. "Many neighboring towns are competing for allocations of limited resources as well. We will continue our constant push for restoration until everyone has power back."

Gov. Chris Christie released the restoration plans for New Jersey's three primary power companies Saturday in an effort to provide New Jerseyans greater transparency and certainty about the progress of restoration in their towns.

Orange & Rockland, however said it wasn't asked to provide its timetable to state officials.

Nearly 85 percent of nearby Wyckoff was without power as temperatures expected to dip into the 30s Saturday, and PSE&G had no time line for restoring service to more than 2,000 customers, according to the work schedule.

"I understand your frustration and we are all doing what we can to make this recovery period as short and painless as possible," Bivona said. "Please come by one of our comfort stations to see us if you want to talk further or feel free to call me."

The mayor also praised first responders and those working throughout the week to remove and facilitate removal of obstructions around Franklin Lakes.

"Our police have done a terrific job, risking their lives responding to emergencies during the storm," Bivona wrote. "Now they are guiding repair crews through town to trouble spots. Our fire and ambulance volunteers have been a true blessing and have responded day and night to countless calls. Our CERT volunteers have manned comfort stations in two areas providing much needed amenities to residents. Our DPW staff has been incredible, working in our roads with heavy equipment — clearing over 50 roads."

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Joseph M. Gerace at Joseph.Gerace@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox every morning, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Concerned November 04, 2012 at 12:06 PM
I would rather the resources be used for our homes than the schools. We don't have gas to take the kids to schools so what's the point? I guess the election is more important than our health.
Wyckoffmom8 November 04, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Nice to see the FL Mayor involved and leading. The Wyckoff mayor is a sleep at the wheel and has done NOTHING to lead. Should cost him his post
Bellasmom November 04, 2012 at 01:42 PM
I don't think Wyckoff officials have been asleep at the wheel,I do think that O&R has no incentive to update the lines and poles that they control in Wyckoff and that we will continue to have the same results. There are no trucks around in the O&R area with or without their logo on them. The only full grocery store, Stop &Shop is still not on line, unacceptable and shame on you O&R.
Anne-Marie Ferentinos November 04, 2012 at 01:54 PM
I spoke to the Wyckoff mayor, and he said he is in constant contact with Orange and Rockland Utilities and has conversations with them on a daily basis. The problem is that they need to import more utility workers to get us all up and running, and I have a feeling they are trying to keep their costs down, and don't want to do that. Obviously, if they imported some more utility workers from different states, they might be able to do more, but who even knows if they have the trucks and supplies anyway.
Concerned November 04, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Thee bottom line in any business is results.O&R results are poor as are the Township leadership. They may be trying but the results are poor. Its the way the world works. Leaving the 75+% houses out of it, a clear example is that we don't have a supermarket online other than through generators. We have power and gas in the smallest station and none in the 2 larger downtown Wyckoff stations. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ==>On a side note there were at least 3 (verified by me) Hawthorne stations with power and no gas at 6 a.m. yesterday - Wagaraw and Lincoln and Wagaraw and Lafayette but I keep hearing supply is fine implying that delivery is fine also..
John Margroff November 04, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Growing up in Wyckoff many years ago the towns in our area who were serviced in our area petition the state to have PSEG absorb the Rockland seriviced area. The then Govenor Robert Meyner (D) refused to move on the issue. However many towns in our area now serviced by PSEG are still out of power, while most of Wyckoff has been restored. hile Iwould still like PSEG take over the Rockland area that will never happen as long as there is a connection between Rockland and Con Edison.
Jim November 04, 2012 at 04:12 PM
"Most of Wyckoff" has been restored? That's a good one! And if the Wyckoff mayor is in "constant communication" with O&R, then why have there been no updates since Friday? The town of Wyckoff is doing as lousy a job of communicating as O&R is doing in addressing the power outage in Wyckoff. Just my opinion.
Ilona Gedutiene November 04, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Agreed! It is time for the town leadership to show why they were elected in a first place. The town is dead, it is worse than a Third World!!! Incompetent.
jp1 November 04, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Most of Wyckoff still without power.
Joseph M. Gerace (Editor) November 04, 2012 at 06:28 PM
I've been in contact with Chris DePhillips nearly every day since Sandy struck and can confidently say he's been pressuring O&R and PSE&G officials around the clock.
James Novell November 04, 2012 at 07:15 PM
When the ravages of "Sandy" is behind us the residents of Franklin Lakes and Wyckoff should seek another electrical company. Despite the fact we have "underground utilities" we are one of the first to be effected and the last to be restored. James Novell (From The Greatest Generation)
Richard Sorce November 04, 2012 at 07:39 PM
They never have a problem with demanding the payment of their bills on time! Put those obscene profits to work upgrading the delivery system instead of distributing them to shareholders.
Jon November 04, 2012 at 09:40 PM
our township officials have been nothing short of fantastic, the issues are around the power companies and how they are set up to respond, and more importantly the fact that we have our wires above ground like its 1912 not 2012, we need to change the way power is delivered and burying the lines is step one, I know cost is an issue but one storm pays for itself. These power companies could double even triple their staff it wouldn't help..
wyguy November 04, 2012 at 10:36 PM
We have never had a storm of this magnitude.....never, It's tough going for everyone. My power is still out,,,,hopefully one or two more days.Look at south jersey and Long Island.....we will be fine.
Joseph M. Gerace (Editor) November 04, 2012 at 10:43 PM
Also, practically, a lot of families left their towns because of power outages. What will they do if their children are supposed to be back at school but they're without power and staying at a hotel a dozen miles away?
Jennifer L November 04, 2012 at 10:54 PM
I've lived on Wellington for 15 years. We have and always lose power for extended periods of time, for every weather event. It has become an acceptable existence. Wyckoff needs to step up and realize that although we fall very low on the Orange and Rockland list of priority, we pay our taxes to the township, and make our timely payments to a service provider that never, ever considers our needs for power restoration. This has to stop. Release the equipment you own, (Orange and Rockland) and let us join a network that will include us with the greater population in terms of priority.
Jeanne B November 05, 2012 at 12:27 PM
O&R website lies. Outage map does not show all outages reported. My family is in Franklin Lakes and has reported both on phone and online as have neighbors but are not shown on map. Nearest reported on map are 1/2 a mile away and insufficient numbers to cover all customers in area. Cynical way to deal with customers!
PO'd November 08, 2012 at 04:21 PM
It is now Thursday November 8th, and we on Berkeley Drive are still without power. We are being told that power will be restored by Saturday November 10 at 11pm. (13 days without power or heat). UNACCEPTABLE. The Sicomac school children went back to school yesterday afternoon at Washington School. Putting kids in a different school for one half day with no books or supplies is unproductive. So why is there still no power at Ramapo HS and Sicomac School? Shouldn't these be a priority? Our section of town often loses power and we are always among the last to come back on line. I realize this was a catastrophic event but O&R is unresponsive and overall, unable to provide proper service. Five years ago, no one had a back up generator. Because of several major outages in the past couple of years, many neighbors invested in portable back up generators which in this case do not provide heat and require constant refueling. Now we're all talking about laying out 10 grand or so for a full power restoration generator. What recourse do we have? Can we refuse to pay our bill? No. Will they provide us with generators? No. It's up to our elected officials to KICK SOME ASS.
stephen November 18, 2012 at 12:33 AM
ive never seen people cry and complain so much.

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