Despite 7,400 PSE&G customers in Bloomfield still without power, there's at least some good news in the town's Super Sandy saga, officials said during a meeting Saturday morning.
The power company has given the town a dedicated tree truck and line man to start clearing major headaches, including the fallen telephone pole taking out both north lanes of Bloomfield Avenue, near Willard Avenue.
"That pole is coming down one way or another," said Office of Emergency Management Director Fred Menzel.
Crews are also actively working to restore the Crooks Avenue substation, which powers many of the homes in the Brookdale section of town, Mayor Raymond McCarthy said. The Clifton substation went down just after being restored Friday night.
Christopher Cheplic was floored after hearing it could be another week until power is restored to his Yantecaw Avenue home. Since losing power Monday night, Cheplic and his family have stayed at several hotels and even braved the cold while sleeping at home.
"It's absolutely ridiculous," said Cheplic, who has a three- and one-year-old.
Cheplic said the power outage situation is particularly frustrating because his neighbors on adjacent Burnett Street have power. In the interim, Cheplic and his family may stay at his parents house in Old Bridge – that is, if they can get there.
"We can't really take any significant drives in consideration that we don't have that much gas," he said.
The town's OEM team is also none too happy with PSE&G's response – or lack of one –in wake of Hurricane Sandy. Bloomfield officials have been on conference calls with PSE&G twice a day since the storm knocked out power last Monday to much of the town.
"Public Service, to be honest, has not been very forthcoming with information," said Menzel, adding that few PSE&G trucks had been seen in the city this past week.
FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) is not offering $300 food stamp vouchers as previously mentioned in this story, a spokesperson said Sunday.
Most schools in Bloomfield will reopen Monday and residents will be able to report to their normal polling place Tuesday on Election Day. Power has been restored to Demarest, Brookdale and Bloomfield Middle schools and polls will be available there. Carteret school will be powered by backup generator to allow residents to vote.
"Everyone will be able to vote Tuesday," Menzel said.
Gas lines have crippled traffic throughout town, with drivers waiting hours to fill their tanks. Bloomfield Police Department has officers at every station for traffic flow and crowd control.
Here's what else you need to know:
- Residents can still call the township's non-emergency line at 973-680-4177 with questions or concerns.
- Township and emergency vehicles have gotten the OK to fill up at the Armory in West Orange.
- Park United Methodist Church remains open as a shelter providing hot meals and a warm place to sleep for families without power. Call 973-429-7745 for more information.
- Currently, there are no water restrictions in Bloomfield.
- Department of Public Works is asking all residents to avoid bringing out bags of leaves and branches due to forecasted high winds Saturday. Residents can drop off everything BUT regular garbage at DPW on Grove Street on Saturday from 8-4 p.m. and Sunday from 9-1 p.m. Trash pickup will resume Monday.
- Parking enforcement will resume Monday.
- Menzel also urged residents to sign up for the township's reverse 9-1-1 call for updates. Visit the township website to sign up.
[Editor's note: This story originally published Saturday, Nov. 3. It has since been updated with new information.]