November 6, 2012 at 6:42 PM
SUSSEX COUNTY, NJ – People around Sussex County are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, as many have had their power restored. However, many communities are still experiencing difficulties, some to greater degrees than others.
At the current time, 12,094 JCP&L customers or 21 percent, are still without power. All members in the Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative area have had power restored.
Sussex County was added to the Federal Disaster Declaration Fact Sheet for FEMA, due to the major damages to county communities. Click here for full details.
With the many residents remaining without power, as well as the threat of another storm, this time three to six inches of snow forecasted for Wednesday nights, residents are seeking shelter at both Sussex County Technical School, and Hopatcong High School, which are also warming shelters, and charging stations.
Per the county website, “All night shelters remain open at Sussex County Technical School and Hopatcong High School. You do not need to spend the night but are welcome to. Stop in any time for warming, food, water, showers or to charge your cell phone. Bring your own blankets, towels and shower supplies. Both overnight shelters are pet friendly. Please bring a leash, pet food, favorite blanket or toy, and a pet carrier if possible.”
Also, there are warming shelters throughout the county, which the county said, “Warming shelters are open around the county. Each shelter is providing different levels of comfort, including meals, hot drinks, and electricity. Contact your local fire department for specifics. These shelters are for the comforts offered by each department, not for lodging. Residents needing overnight lodging should check in to either of the regional shelters- Sussex Tech or the Hopatcong High School.”
The following are warming shelters, and their hours:
Hardyston Fire Department (Company 1- Stockholm) 11/5 & 11/6 from 1pm-8pm
Hamburg Fire Department 6pm-8pm
Green Township Fire Department 10am-10pm
Andover Township Fire Department 6pm-9pm
McAfee Fire Department 4pm-9pm
Pochuck Valley Fire Department 6pm-9:30pm
Stillwater Fire Department 24/7.
Swartswood Fire Department 24/7.
Vernon Fire Department 6:30pm-11pm
Montague Fire Department 11/6 9am-9pm
Stanhope Fire Department 4pm-10pm
Charging stations are another option for residents, and the county said, “All Sussex County branch libraries. Continuing on Monday, the Main Library has coffee, tea, cocoa, and while they last, cookies and muffins. There are outlets for charging phones and other mobile devices. Please let family and friends without power know that they can come to the library for these services. The Louise Childs Branch remains closed.”
One of the municipalities experiencing the greatest number of issues is Hopatcong Borough, and since the recovery from the storm has begun, The Alternative Press has been in touch several times with Hopatcong Borough Mayor Sylvia Petillo.
Although more borough residents are “on the electric,” said Petillo, there are many issues with communications.
“We’re having a great deal of problems with our internet,” said Petillo, who clarified, the police department has internet, and the municipal building does not. Petillo said many residents are without internet as well.
“We’ve had some major roads closed,” said Hopatcong Borough Patrolman, and OEM Coordinator, Bob Haffner.
Petillo said Hopatcong High School has become a regional shelter, and Haffner provided statistics; the shelter served about 2,000 area residents during the day, and 200 have been sleeping there at night.
Haffner said potable water is available for residents at the DPW Building, and firehouse, and, bottled drinking water at the firehouse.
Petillo said ShopRite of Succasunna is offering $5 gift cards to residents without power, for water and ice.
At the current time, Petillo said “We’re really on the elections,” and in spite of difficulties communicating and shifts in voting locations, many residents have made their way out to the polls.
Hopatcong Borough Police has been providing updates about road closures, and road re-openings, on its Facebook Page.
The police department also posted the following information: “Hopatcong Police, along with the mayor and borough administrator would like to release the following information: Red Cross has established a regional center at Hopatcong High School, Windsor Avenue. Food, showers and shelter are available 24/7. Pets allowed but must be caged. DPW is clearing trees in roadways. If you live on a blocked street and cannot get out call (973)810-8346. Borough hall is open 9 am - 4:30 pm. The recycling center is open daily until further notice, 8 am - 3 pm. Garbage collection is as scheduled. A garbage dumpster is available at the DPW yard, 120 River Styx Rd, daily from 8 am - 3 pm. For food disposal only. Messages are being sent out over the radio WRNJ 1510, 92.7 FM, WSUS FM 102.3, WNNJ FM, 106.3, Patch, Alternative news and the Herald News. Ice distributed at the Sussex County Fairgrounds. Hazard waste day - Saturday @ SCMUA in Lafayette 7 AM - 2 PM.”
In spite of the difficulties, yesterday, some residents celebrated Halloween, and today, residents are packing the polls on Election Day.
In some municipalities, such as Hopatcong Borough, Petillo overall cancelled Halloween, though some of the school district’s teachers organized a trunk or treat at the high school at noon yesterday.
Sparta Township was a municipality where trick or treating was permitted, with limitations, including a breaking news release from Sparta Township Police Chief Ernest Reigstad, who instructed residents not to trick or treat on streets without power, and, instituted a 9 p.m. curfew.
Byram celebrated with a rescheduled trunk or treat at Lockwood Farms on Sunday, and Newton residents packed the streets for their annual Halloween Parade on Monday night. In spite of plunging temperatures last night, Newton residents paraded along Spring Street, down Moran Street, and into the parking lot across from the municipal building. The town’s fire department, and Moose Lodge sponsored the event, and Don Meng from the recreation commission served up cookies and hot cocoa to help take the chill off. There was a costume contest for residents from ages 0 to adult, and the fire department and Moose Lodge handed out candy, and a dollar to each participant.
“It’s a very cold night, a lot of people came out to support the Newton Fire Department Parade,” said Mike Teets, the department’s chief.
In terms of voting, a complimentary comment came from Andover Township Clerk/Administrator Vita Thompson, regarding the DPW’s handling of the Election Day rush.
“DPW directing traffic to all six districts located at the DPW garage, orderly and systematically,” Thompson wrote. “What a voter turnout.”
Some recent updates from around the county:
Andover Township: The police department has posted on its Facebook Page, “Two JCP&L crews currently working in the Lake Lenape Section. Some residents are reporting restoration. We will continue to keep you advised.”
Hopatcong Borough: The police department posted on its Facebook Page.
“As of now, if conditions permit, The Hopatcong schools are looking to re-open on Nov. 12.” The police department also asked residents not to call to ask when the power will be back on. “Unfortunately, we don’t know,” the message stated. “We know as much as you do.”
Sparta Township: Sparta Township Police reported on its Facebook Page, roads open with limitations: Sawmill Rd - low wires (passable for cars), Green Rd - low wires (passable for cars), Milton Rd - blocked tunnel, Seneca Lake Rd - blocked by pole, Warren Rd - blocked @ # 89 (JCP&L on scene), Tomahawk Trl - low wires (passable for cars), Demarest Rd - low wires (one lane passable), Walnut Rd - low wires (passable for cars), Birch Tree Ln – low wires (passable for cars), Heritage Dr – blocked mid-block. Sparta Township Schools are also closed until further notice.
Town of Newton: On the town’s website, there were numbers provided through November 5, of estimate for power restoration. Information is as follows: As of Nov. 5th there are 695 customers out. “Estimated customers restored on Nov. 5th: 0, Estimated customers restored on Nov. 6th: 14, Estimated customers restored on Nov. 7th: 206, Estimated customers restored on Nov. 8th: 154, Estimated customers restored on Nov. 9th: 86, and Estimated customers restored on Nov. 10th: 56.
Vernon Township: The Vernon Police Department has continued to post information on its Facebook Page, from gas stations with fuel, and those running out. They also have asked township residents, “With the Nor'easter predicted to hit New Jersey tomorrow, colder temperatures, wind, and possible snow, we are reminding all residents that the shelter at the Sussex County Vo-tech is open. We are asking any resident with power still out to please speak with your neighbors so everyone is aware of the storm and available shelter. We are doing out best to get this information out to all of the residents in Vernon with no power.” The police also publicly thanked the citizens for their support. “The Vernon Police would like to extend a sincere thank you to the residents of Vernon for your outpouring of support over the past week. Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on our town, leaving most of us with no power, in the cold, and very long gas lines. During and after the storm, residents and some business dropped off hot food and coffee to us. We received a tremendous amount of cooperation both in phone calls to police headquarters and on gas lines. We have also received reports of neighbors helping neighbors, which helped us reduce our call volume. We appreciate your support and are honored to be a part of this community.”
Continue to follow The Alternative Press for continuing news coverage on the Hurricane Sandy Recovery, and The Alternative Press of Sussex County’s updates on Facebook.