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."