As Tropical Storm Hermine threatens the eastern U.S., Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) currently has more than 2,400 linemen, hazard responders, public protectors, dispatchers, forestry and other support personnel standing by to assist should high winds and flooding interrupt service to its central and northern New Jersey customers during Labor Day and beyond.
The workforce totals include more than 800 JCP&L personnel, plus 525 from other FirstEnergy Corp. utilities in Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland. The company also has 490 electrical contractors, and over 655 foresters standing by. In addition, the company continues to work with electric industry mutual assistance organizations to secure additional resources, if needed.
Staging areas for outside crews and vehicles are being prepared at the following locations: Monmouth Race Track in Oceanport; Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson; Blue Claws Stadium in Lakewood; and Forked River Power Plant in Forked River. In addition, eight helicopters are on stand-by to patrol power lines to look for trouble spots once the severe weather has passed through the area.
“Along with securing additional line crews, we have implemented JCP&L’s Incident Command System and have opened our Emergency Command Center in Red Bank to manage our response to Tropical Storm Hermine,” said Tony Hurley, JCP&L vice president of Operations. “We also have taken aggressive storm preparation steps to help secure our system, including setting up specially designed flood barriers and pumps in several key substations as an added precaution should rising water levels cause any issues with the localized electrical system.”
In addition, JCP&L has contacted International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Locals 102 and 400 about securing additional hazard responders to assist with storm restoration activities, especially protecting the public from downed wires.
JCP&L’s management also have provided operational updates to local mayors and emergency management officials and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, and will continue to do so as long as Tropical Storm Hermine remains a threat.
In the event of severe weather, customers should immediately report downed wires to their utility or their local police or fire department. Customers should never go near a downed power line, even if they think it is no longer carrying electricity. Extra caution should be used in areas where downed lines are tangled in trees or other debris. Motorists are cautioned to treat intersections with inoperable traffic signals as four-way stops.
FirstEnergy customer call centers will be fully staffed. Customers who are without power are encouraged to call 1-888-LIGHTSS (1-888-544-4877) to report their outage or click the “Report Outage” link at www.firstenergycorp.com.
JCP&L customers also can subscribe to email and text message alert notifications to receive important storm information. Customers can also use two-way text messaging to report outages, request updates on restoration efforts, and make other inquiries about their electric accounts. More information about these communication tools is available online at www.firstenergycorp.com/connect.
Prior to storms impacting New Jersey, the company encourages customers to plan ahead for the possibility of electric service interruptions by following these tips:
· Keep flashlights and fresh batteries in your home. Avoid using candles to light your home, especially around children and pets.
· If you have a water well and pump, keep an emergency supply of bottled water and/or fill your bathtub with fresh water.
· Stock an emergency supply of convenience foods that do not require cooking.
· Have a hard-wired telephone or a charged cell phone handy in the event you need to report your electricity is out. Mobile phones can be charged in your vehicle using a car charger when the power is out.
· Do not use gas stoves, kerosene heaters or other open-flame heat sources indoors. These can cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to build up in your home.
· Keep a battery-powered radio with extra batteries on hand. Tune to a local station for current storm information.
· Emergency power generators offer an option for customers needing or wanting uninterrupted service. However, to ensure the safety of the home’s occupants as well as that of utility company employees who may be working on power lines in the area, the proper generator should be selected and installed by a qualified electrician. When operating a generator, the power coming into the home should always be disconnected. Otherwise, power from the generator could be sent back onto the utility lines, creating a hazardous situation for utility workers.