Get Wires Out of Street, Area Officials Urge JCP&L
Wires that haven't been checked or removed hamper local cleanup efforts, officials say.
Untested wires, transformers and other electrical equipment still has been laying on streets and even state and county roads in Bernardsville and Basking Ridge, hampering cleanup efforts to clear streets and, in the borough, trapping some residents on impassable roads.
As of Wednesday night, Bernardsville Councilman Joe Rossi said some residents remained trapped in their homes, since trees and road debris have led to a situation where the road department or others cannot clear the roadways.
Resident injured removing tree
That also has led to a situation where some residents are trying to take the situation into their own hands, Rossi said. One borough resident was injured trying to remove a tree and had to be rescued with the borough's new all-terrain vehicle that was able to travel off road, he said.
"The most important thing when we have something like this is to have crews available to clear the trees or at least to have a licensed electrician available in to say what's live and what's not," Rossi said.
On Thursday morning, he said he had not seen work being performed on wires, and he said he believed any removed from the road had been removed by road crews trying to improve the situation.
Wires prevent trees from being removed in Bernards Township and Bernardsville
Earlier on Wednesday, Bernards Township Committeeman John Malay said that while power might take up to two weeks to restore in some places as the power company concentrated on fixing major transformers, substations and larger population areas.
But with wires across or down on many Bernards streets, particularly in northern Basking Ridge, Malay said that having JCP&L remove wires and electrical equipment on streets or in falling trees should be as high a priority for the power company.
Emergency officials, including Bernards Township Administrator Bruce McArthur said that the township's department of public works can't remove trees until the wires are removed.
"We are working hard to clear the roads as best we can but many areas are still inaccessible at this time," Bernardsville Police Chief Kevin Valentine said on Wednesday night.
"We are working with JCP&L to clear trees that have power lines mixed with them," Valentine said.
Valentine added the police department is doing a street-to-street assessment of the borough in an attempt to identify residents with special needs.
"Residents are urged to conserve fuel (gasoline and diesel) as fuel is difficult to find at this time and may not be readily available to fill generators or vehicles," Valentine said.
Having roads blocked by wires means that even residents without special needs are inaccessible for emergency vehicles if they become ill or are injured, Rossi said.
Rossi said there is no excuse for JCP&L not to have arranged beforehand to have a certified employee in the area to at least test wires and make sure they could be safely removed.
"They should have been here before the storm," he said, noting that Sandy's arrival had been predicted and tracked well ahead of time.
On the third day after Sandy, right near the center of the borough, three transformers were laying at the side of Childs Road, although the large fallen tree blocking Somerset Hills Village had been removed.
But Rossi said that many county and even state roads remained littered with wires and trees, all of which create a hazard.
Rossi said that as far as he could see, JCP&L had not taken any precautionary measures. "There's no cones, no illuminated tape on the wires," he noted.
Rossi added he will complain to the county and the state for not keeping those roads passable. Route 202 also had wires on that state highway, he said. The road between Far Hills and Bernardsville reportedly remained blocked on Thursday.
As for JCP&L, Rossi said, "The power company should lose their license to operate in the state."
A JCP&L representative did not respond to an email on Thursday after for information.