RARITAN TWP., NJ – As some people in Hunterdon enter their fifth day without power, comparisons to 2012’s Superstorm Sandy are inevitable. Jersey Central Power & Light has made substantial progress; spokesperson Ron Marano said this morning the company has restored service to 195,000 customers.

And in Hunterdon, where more than 30,000 JCP&L customers were in the dark at the peak on Saturday, that number is down to about 4,600 this afternoon.

But substantial progress remains. In hard-hit Bethlehem Township, for example, JCP&L is reporting that nearly a third of the homes there haven’t had power since the lights went out on Friday.

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One comparison to Superstorm Sandy that is certainly valid is JCP&L’s “mini-city.” It’s a self-contained complex set up on the 3M site on Route 202 at Dory Dilts Road here, just as JCP&L established after Sandy.

JCP&L’s parent company First Energy has brought in hundreds of workers from across its service area to restore power in Hunterdon and beyond. Everything those employees need is here. It’s not just the utility poles, transformers, safety cones, wire and hardware that are neatly stored and labeled, but everything else they need to endure the crisis which, given today’s nor’easter, could drag on for days.

There are trailers for sleeping; they contain bunks and each trailer has heat, air conditioning and sleeps 36. There are sinks and showers and a mess tent. Another tent contains the needed supplies. Some may be recognizable to anyone who’s studied the top of a utility pole.

Some other material doesn’t look familiar at all. For example, every transformer contains oil. A damaged transformer can’t just be picked up and tossed into a truck – special oil-absorbing fabric is first put in place to absorb any excess. Each transformer has to then be carefully packaged to ensure there are no leaks. That’s not only to keep work sites clean, but to protect against toxic oil or PCBs, which some transformers still contain. More modern equipment often uses vegetable oil – a much safer compound.

And so it is inside the materials tent: Wire of various types and gauges; materials to splice broken wires; guy wires to secure newly installed poles; and a variety of insulators, cross braces and other wire.

How long will the instant mini-city be here?

That will depend on the weather. But even with today’s snowfall, Marano said, “We’re out working today. The snow has not stopped us. We have crews out, all over the place, doing the job, working to restore (power to) those customers.

Stay with TAPinto Flemington for ongoing coverage of power outages and the storm.