It has been more than a week since Hurricane Sandy hit our area and there are still more than 4 thousand outages reported in the township.
With a Nor'Easter heading our way Township Manager Helene Schlegel said the administration is focused on getting residents their power back while keeping an eye on this upcoming storm. "That's our main goal and our main objective," she said.
She said she also knows that if this next storm is as strong as some of the predictions call for those with power could lose it again. "We're trying to get any objects that could be of danger with high winds out of the way but our whole focus today is really on getting 100 percent back on power and water."
Schlegel said she also knows that those residents who have been in the dark for more than a week are starting to get frustrated and so is the administration. "In comparison to some of our neighbors that have been met with devastation it doesn't seem all that important but it's important to residents that haven't had power in seven days."
Since the storm hit Schlegel said they have been getting calls from residents asking when their power will be restored and it is difficult not having answers for them. "It's frustrating to us," she said. "People are reaching out to us to assist them and help get their power back. I wish I could flip the switch so everyone in Howell Township had their power back."
With a storm as strong as Sandy, Schlegel said the outages are understandable but the communication could be better when it comes to JCP&L. "The storm was beyond the magnitude that they were prepared for," she said. "It's not something they could have really been prepared for." She added, "We are not focusing on why the electric isn't back, we are saying you need to give us that information. We're not getting the information to give to residents."
For many residents, Schlegel said having information about what will happen and when their power is restored would make a big difference. "Even if it's to say you're not getting your power back on for seven more days, people just want that information."
Deputy Mayor Bill Gotto said he has also been in contact with people from JCP&L about the outages and said they have been working to get power restored in the township. He said the bulk of the outages have been caused by problems at the Larabee and Howell substations. He said the Larabee station has all of its eight circuits restored. The Howell station is having three of its five circuits checked by the utility.
The investigation of the circuits means workers trace them to see where they go and where any potential problems might be. "They're working 24/7 and they're doing to continue to bring in additional crews," Gotto said. "They don't have a time for how long that will take."
Gotto also said that while communication has not always been easy he understands that the scope of the storm has made that difficult. "We're not asking everybody to tell us exactly when, we're asking people to tell us what you're doing. As long as people know something's going on they can plan around it."
The original estimates for power to be restored had much of the township being restored by tomorrow. Many of the remaining outages were to be repaired by the end of the week according to JCP&L though that could change with the track of the new storm.