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Power Restoration Leads to Official Frustration

Delays, fragmented workforces, and, now, a nor'easter have made getting power back in Red Bank and exercise in frustration.

If Jersey Central Power and Light could send three or four trucks to Red Bank, spend the day here, borough Administrator Stanley Sickles said, it's likely the town could be back at full power, could have been just a day or two after the storm.

Unfortunately, that's not how it works.

Following Red Bank's Council meeting Wednesday night held during the area's most recent weather misfortune, a nor'easter that dropped as much as five inches of snow on the Greater Red Bank area, Sickles explained his big yellow board.

It's a map of the borough, you see, and as lines and poles are repaired and power is reportedly restored to individual neighborhoods they are colored in with a yellow highlighter - yellow for lights, Sickles said, deadpan. Scattered throughout the yellow map are sections of white, or neighborhoods that haven't gotten power back, a week and a half now since Hurricane Sandy tore through New Jersey.

The problem with getting power back for those 1,700 or so affected Red Bank residents - a number that's up by about 200 following the nor'easter - is that JCP&L's workforce is fractured, divided amongst nearly every town in the utility's coverage area, and following orders from Gov. Chris Christie's orders to get as many people back up and running as possible.That means isolating problems, testing lines, and making minor repairs along the way.

In Red Bank, specifically, that means downed lines have remained downs, blown transformers are left unrepaired, and residents remain without power. In all, about 40 percent of Red Bank remains without power, the borough estimates.

"We've been lucky that there is a crew responding to lines down and that there's a crew dedicated to the town, to get as many properties back online," Sickles said. "But in order to fix many of these problems they need like three or four trucks, which aren't available right now."

Those sections of the Red Bank without power have been accounted for, as have the reasons they're without power. In some spots downed primary lines are to blame - Sickles said multiple crews in multiple lift trucks need to be working at the same time to repair primary lines - others its broken transformers and downed trees.

Residents without power on the east side of town closest to Fair Haven remain without power because they hook up to substations in either that town or Little Silver, where crews working outward from those substations have yet to start working in Red Bank. There is some good news for residents of those neighborhoods, however. Sickles said the Fair Haven and Little Silver substations impacting Red Bank are up, now it's likely just a day or two - depending on the nor'easter's impact - before residents in those areas get power back.

In nearly each instance, a single crew dispatched to Red Bank has been cutting off the problem areas while powering up everyone around it. 

To the borough's credit, Red Bank has remained in near constant contract with JCP&L via emails, phone calls, and even visits to the utility's headquarters in an effort to persuade them to attend to the town's outages. Sickles said he calls representatives with the utility multiple times a day asking for updates. Of course, those people Sickles speaks to have been pleasant and cooperative, but they've failed to give the borough proper attention. 

"As much as we're fighting for Red Bank," Sickles said. "They're looking at a much larger region of damage."

Dave Johnson November 08, 2012 at 11:40 AM
Who can residence call to make things happen? It's a great explanation, but what is the solution? Coming into the 10th day without power and riding out Athena in the dark in more ways than one, what are the timelines? Give us homeowners an action item, we will get right to it.
Edward Van Embden November 08, 2012 at 11:48 AM
Residents can call JCP&L at 1-888-LIGHTSS. Beyond that, there's little else.
sunshinestar November 08, 2012 at 03:18 PM
On tuesday there were at least 10 trucks from out of state waiting for jcpl to give them a work order they were there from 7 am till after 5 pm A minimum 40 men standing Round wanting to help. They were at the monmouth mAll. A huge failure on so many levels...... I am on day 11 of no power. Outrageous
Fred RBPatch November 08, 2012 at 04:41 PM
It is my understanding that the Shrewsbury Boro building dept. is requiring "permits" to have electric wires which have been pulled off of houses repaired by JCP&L. This is BS! I have had the wires pulled from my home 3 times in 20 years, and I NEVER had to get a permit. This requirement is NOT a safety issue, it's a REVENUE issue! In most instances JCP&L can do this without the need for permits! The Shrewsbury Boro Construction Dept. should be ashamed of themselves. If Governor Christie can tell us it's "OK" to bypass some regulations in order to make our families safe and warm, then Shrewsbury Boro should do the same!!!! This is "Red Tape" that will only add to the delay and incovenience of our residents in a time when we need to do what we can to get back on our feet WITHOUT having to go through this BS!!!!
adria magnus November 09, 2012 at 06:36 PM
11 days without power and not even a water view for my troubles!I believe they are trying at the town level, but perhaps that's not enough. I've yet to see a single utility truck in the area, but have had the opportunity to pass by the track several times and have seen tens, if not hundreds of utility trucks parked there. If christie is setting the prorities, maybe its time for the populous to go to him. Tell us what to do! If ,NYC could get the subways going again, surely we can do better than we have so far.

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