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Mayor Pressing Utilities as Wyckoff Goes into Another Night Without Power

More than 90 percent of township homes still have no power resources are scarce as many stranded residents await the arrival of utility crews

More than 90 percent of Wyckoff is still without power — including critical assets such as gas stations and restaurants — as township officials and residents dig in for the long haul in the road to recovery from Hurricane Sandy.

Crews from the Department of Public Works have been working around the clock to clear debris that has forced many residents to stay indoors because of hazardous conditions on the roads around town. 

"Scott Fisher and his crew have been out there all day clearing debris," Wyckoff Mayor Chris DePhillips said. 

At the height of road closures, more than 60 roads were blocked across Wyckoff — now, there are only about 20-25 inaccessible streets in the township, according to township officials.

Many of the obstructed roads haven't been cleared because downed electrical wires pose a significant threat, not only to DPW crews, but passersby. Because of the hazards still present on many township streets, school was canceled for the rest of the week.

The mayor spoke with Wyckoff Public Schools Superintendent Rich Kuder who confirmed that all township public schools, as well as both Ramapo and Indian Hills high schools would be closed on Thursday and Friday as municipalities clear the damage left by Sandy.

The township has been in maintenance mode for all of Wednesday, working with residents in need who have stopped into town hall or called the police dispatch line. 

"There are a lot of residents who continue to come here," DePhillips said. "It's only one of two places residents can go [in Wyckoff.]" 

Powerhouse Church on West Main Street began offering up their facilities Wednesday to residents in need.

Pastor Jeff Boucher's church is "the only institution in Wyckoff that has main power," DePhillips said, and they're equipped to handle day-time needs for residents. 

The space is a "pretty comfortable facility" that's kept around 62 degrees with plenty of room, including kids spaces and a big auditiorium.

DePhillips said Boucher offered to make the church available "as long as we need it."

Hopes in town hall were high as the mayor applied continued pressure on both PSE&G and Orange and Rockland electrical companies.

"I've been in constant contact with the utilites," DePhillips said. 

He's been pushing aggressively to get crews into Wyckoff, but utilities told the mayor that they're first working on the substations. 

"Once they're up, the crews could go neighborhood-by-neighborhood to restore power."

DePhillips also said he spoke to State Senator Kevin O'Toole, "who's going to intervene on our behalf to get a better response from Orange & Rockland." The utility, which services a smaller area in the township than PSE&G, has been less responsive to the mayor's calls, he said.

"You have to put your community on the map and press the utilities and remind them what your communities are going through," DePhillips said.

Some PSE&G crews have been in the township working on blocked roads and other "serious situations" where wires were involved. 

"They removed wires and cut up trees or just removed the wires and turned [the tree removal] over to the DPW. 

"We'll do whatever we need to do," DePhillips said. "Once they come into town we don't like to see them leave."

According to DePhillips, on a call Tuesday night with Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan, the county chief said that a shelter established at Bergen County Community College was full.

"But, things open up... [and] there's another facility in Lyndhurst, and another in Demarest," DePhillips said. And [Donovan] is looking at other sites in Bergen County. 

Ridgewood Water

DePhillips spoke to Ridgewood Water chief Frank Moritz, who assured the mayor that widespread rumors about trouble at the water company were untrue.

"He assured me that there were no plans to shut water off," DePhillips said. "They're not in any way, shape, or form at any crisis level." 

The mayor is confident that Wyckoff is in a good position when it comes to water levels.

Dwindling Resources 

DePhillips said only a few homes may have come back online on Wednesday, but that the number of neighborhoods still without power hadn't changed. 

But as residents begin to burn through fuel in their cars and generators, as well as food to feed their families, DePhillips reiterated how urgent it was that PSE&G and O&R work to restore power to Wyckoff's business district

Until then the township is being forced to direct residents to neighboring towns that have power, and most importantly, food and fuel. 

Township officials are maintaining a list of places where gas is available, but that list is malleable as residents from around Begen County scramble to fill up cars and gas cans.

Those in need should contact dispatchers at 201-891-2121.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Residents are coming together in the face of adversity and lending a helping hand to those in need.

"I have such loving neighbors," said one Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes Patch Facebook reader Janet Bob Hoogerheyde. "Even without seeing each other for years, I was blown away with the kindness shown by two of my backyard neighbors. They allowed us to hook into their generator and another hooked up heat."

People are speaking up on Facebook, Hoogerheyde added, writing words of encouragement and sending prayers to those who are afraid.

"God will provide if we seek Him," she said. "Let us help one another. God bless you all."

Another reader, Bill Wulff said that he was sharing his generator with a neighbor.

"[A] tree fell on my house and lots of neighbors came over to help," Wulff said. 

Wyckoff Committeeman Briand Scanlan said the township was making slow but steady progress, noting that those scheduled to receive Wednesday trash pick up had in fact received it.

Throughout the storm and Wyckoff's recovery, people in need have been in contact with the township's board of health.

"One of the lesser known issues is that many people on oxygen... need power to operate their equipment," Scanlan said, so the BOH was making efforts to "try to get them to a place where there's consistent power, [such as] the Christian Health Care Center."  

Some still had to be transported to the hospital, he said.

The Community Emergency Response Team had also been working with the BOH to check up on the elderly and others with extraordinary needs. 

"I would really encourage neighbors to knock on other neighbors' doors and see they're that they're OK," Scanlan said. "People are really helping each other out."

Anybody with a medical concern should first contact police dispatchers at 201-891-2121 where they will be directed to the appropriate party, Scanlan said.

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.

KS November 01, 2012 at 02:36 AM
And also just want to say thanks to all of the Wyckoff officials, police, fire, ambulance, dpw and everyone else that is doing all they can for the town right now.
KS November 01, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Thanks Joseph but I only get an automated service when I've tried that number which they post on the oru site. I would love to see the bat line number posted to a few important folks at oru to hear why they were not prepared yet again a year after the last devastating storm that took us down and why we don't see a single truck around. I get that they are working hard and this storm was crippling but lets spread the love and see some progress here in Wyckoff.
harold November 01, 2012 at 06:06 AM
How has president obama not named bergen coumty a disater relief area. I have a house that is nearly uninhabitable. Is it because we as a whole are not his constituantants even though we pay more to his programs than most? I am lost for words.
WhereAreTheTrucks? November 01, 2012 at 01:27 PM
I haven't seen a single truck out in Wyckoff. Focusing on getting the commercial part of town up and running it bogus. Some of us don't have generators and the temps in our houses are dropping below 45 F. We need to see some action here.
Janet November 01, 2012 at 02:14 PM
I have seen firetrucks down our block the first day, haven't since. Huge tree down on Godwin between funeral home and Brick House goes right across the street. I live off Crescent. Have well water so cannot flush the toilet. I am in Paramus online right now as had very minimal service on cell phone until last night. No heat. no water. not a single luxury. Making most of it until it can get fixed. Have Rockland Electric, not PSE&G for the electric. Also no generator. Hopefully power soon, but could be into next week from what it sounds.
Bob Brown November 01, 2012 at 04:16 PM
The only work I have seen from the township of Wyckoff are the police officers driving around in their cars sipping the only coffee in town and the workers/landscapers making sure people leaves of off their lawns.
salvatore November 01, 2012 at 04:19 PM
yes not one PSE&G truck yet many at the garden state plaza parking lot. Are they going in alphabetical order and Wyckoff is last? I heard Mahwah's mayor complained and some people i know got power last night. why are we last? Fairlawn both my brother and sister have power but they still had PSE&G trucks there last night. Maybe we need a high ranking PSE&G executive to move to wyckoff?
Barbara Marella November 01, 2012 at 04:53 PM
PSE&G hung up on me when I tried to call! Nice Customer Service! I also have seen no trucks out in my section of Wyckoff..North Haledon is one street away and they have full power!! What gives??
jp1 November 01, 2012 at 05:02 PM
The entire state was declared a disaster what else would you like?
Gary Rabinowitz November 01, 2012 at 05:16 PM
@ KS -- Our electric utilities fail with alarming regularity. Rockland/Orange (owned by Con Ed) and PSE&G are granted monopolies over our local areas with the understanding that they provide reliable service at reasonable rates regulated by Federal (FERC) and State (NJBPU) authorities. (In customary fashion, the Feds fob off their duty to an impotent (and easily bribeable) state regulator.) I urge local Wyckoff residents to consider filing formal complaints with the State of NJ's Board of Public Utilities: Phone - http://www.state.nj.us/bpu/residential/contact/ Online - http://www.state.nj.us/bpu/assistance/complaints/inquiry.html Good luck & stay well, warm & sane. GXR
Gary Rabinowitz November 01, 2012 at 05:18 PM
@Barbara Marella: Since your first call to PSEG failed, how about you call the State agency that regulates them at (800)624-0241. Good luck
Bob Brown November 01, 2012 at 05:25 PM
I am a Rockland customer. I obviously haven't seen or heard anything from them other than they turned on parts of Mahwah and Paramus. To my surprise I did see a PSE&G truck on Monroe Ave yesterday. But the man took a picture of the power line down and drove away. Not surprising.
salvatore November 01, 2012 at 05:50 PM
@Gary funny that office is closed
thetentman November 01, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Wow, would you all like some cheese with your whine? This was an unprecedented disaster, with a magnitude never seen before. Stop crying and fend for yourselves. Be prepared and stop relying on others to make you comfortable. Stop being helpless. I think it is amusing that people talk of the 'failed' President and socialism but the first time a disaster happens and the gov't is slow in resonding they are the first to cry. Shut up already and be patient and help yourselves and stop being such crybabies. We are all in the same boat.
Gary Rabinowitz November 01, 2012 at 06:27 PM
@ thetentman: here is "thetentman" in his own words: "Born here, moved in 2nd grade (1965) and returned in 1999. I love Graydon, the Library, The Tobacco Shop and the fact that I have a milkman. I was on the fence with the hospital but with all the histrionics and carrying on by the dissenters has me now leaning to support the renovation. Oh and could we please pave the rest of Grove Street. It really s*cks driving on that road everyday." Lovely. Thanks for sharing. Now go troll elsewhere. -GXR
thetentman November 01, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Dear Gary, Stop crying. And now Van Dien needs paving.
Barbara Marella November 01, 2012 at 06:36 PM
As a matter of fact I would like some cheese, but everything in my fridge is spoiled!
Jenny November 01, 2012 at 06:41 PM
I just don't like that we are not being told the truth. I personally saw four O&R crews in Oakland today. Oakland, which has almost been fully restored as of yesterday. Yet O&R is telling us all (including apparently Township officials) that they won't be restoring anyone's power til all the substations and such are fixed, and they are posting on Facebook and Twitter that ~60,000 customers have been restored. Which is it?
Ben & Joan Morton November 01, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Joan and Ben: We are the original owners (purchased in 1964) of 257 Meadowbrook Road--now living in Houston, Texas, where we experienced Hurricane Ike in 2008. We are thinking about all the fine people we knew in Wyckoff many years ago and certainly have your best interest in mind. Naturally, we hope 257 Meadowbrook Road suffered no major damage. Sincerely, Ben Morton
K November 02, 2012 at 03:15 AM
Time to switch to an independent energy company like Direct Energy. Yes it's still O&R and PSE&G lines but when 15000 residents switch they will take notice. Hurt them in the purse. They'll take notice.
JJG November 02, 2012 at 03:50 AM
Mr. Mayor....Is there a particular reason Goffle Rd. has been impassable for 4 nights ??? It is a county road in WYCKOFF, a MAIN ROAD...It is utter insanity to have this closed as cars pile through secondary streets with debri, etc., all over the place....Road care is not a priority in Wyckoff, from snow to this...
Jayne November 02, 2012 at 11:58 AM
The reason there is not a single PSEG truck in town or town that I have seen, is that they are all parked in the Garden State Plaza Parking lot in the middle of the day. What is going on. Are they ill prepared and waiting for parts??? Cant figure it out, Perhaps thats whiy we still are without electric.
Barbara Marella November 02, 2012 at 12:41 PM
I got power back last night, thank God! Still lost about $500 worth of food, but just glad to be warm! Now to find gas for my car so I can continue going to work!
A.D. November 02, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Wyckoff resident, we should all go to town hall and voice our complaints about frustrated we are when Midland Park and Waldwick have power. Example, last house from Waldwick to Wyckoff on Franklin Ave total darkness, how does that work? The town has no problems increasing our taxes whenever they need to fill the coffers or whenever we make any changes to our homes. It has been 5 days of darkness and cold homes, lack of food lack of gas. Why is Wyckoff the only town from the surrounding towns around it with the highest power outage? Let’s start making some noise. Stay safe.
hdrive November 02, 2012 at 08:35 PM
As usual the "very verys" will come first. The very vey poor,the very very rich and he very very connected. Look, the power is on a grid. The substations do no need to be up o effect Wyckoff. Thy need to up to effect Newark etc. Middle class people don't and never will count. Not enough cache I guess....
Chris Byers November 02, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Unfortunately, that won't hurt them. PSE&G makes virtually no profit off of gas/electric supply. They are required to supply it as a condition of getting paid for servicing of accounts and those ridiculous overpriced service guarantee plans.
Richard D. Cameron November 03, 2012 at 10:46 PM
Mr. Mayor. How about using the power of your office to get PSEG to begin power restoration. Your inability to be our advocate will long resonate with voters!
nina November 04, 2012 at 12:45 PM
mayor is not running for the second term so wont make a difference! perhaps the reason why this is...
PO'd November 08, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Thursday Nov 8 11:30 AM: STILL NO POWER
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