SUSSEX COUNTY, NJ - For many, last week's snow storm was challenging in a number of ways. Trees and lines were down all over, knocking out power, internet and even mobile phone service. School was closed for days, making it a very long Thanksgiving break.
The aftermath also left some beautiful sights and wonderful examples of a caring community. There were many stories of neighbors helping neighbors, people who did not lose power or had generators opened their homes to share warmth and WiFi.
Another positive note was that the snow lent just the right seasonal setting for the Lake Mohawk German Christmas Market this weekend.
For one family, however, the story was not so nice. With a line down on Houses Corner Road in Sparta, people decided it was okay to drive across their yard to get around the live wires, leaving a rutted muddy mess.
"Even with the police tape up, people continued to break the tape and drive around," Kathy Schwab said. "My husband and I were told all sorts of things from profanity, to get a life. It was amazing to watch how people think they’re entitled to do whatever they please at someone else’s expense. I wonder how the same people would feel if it was their property being used as the road."
Schwab said the tree branch lying on the live wire began smoking so the power company shut off the electricity and had a work truck blocking the road and "yet again people still tried to go around."
Power and internet has largely been restored throughout the town, though work is still being done. There were occasions when some circuits had to be repaired two or three times, according to JCP&L officials, as lines gave way under the weight of leaning trees and branches. At the peak there were "617 linemen in the Newton area; 50-60 crews," from Orange County [New York] Ohio, Maryland and Pennsylvania, officials said.
JCP&L officials said they were more than prepared for the storm that was predicted, they were "not prepared for the half inch of ice and 12 to 14 inches of snow that we got." An additional challenge was that the storm and damage occurred primarily at night. "We needed to put our eyes on it to assess," they said. The power company maintains lists of critical facilities in each town such as senior citizen housing and pumping stations.