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Westfield Still Recovering From Surprise October Snowstorm; Mayor Asks For Patience as Crews Continue to Haul Debris

Branches from the surprise October snowstorm, as well as fallen leaves, still line both sides of about half of Westfield’s streets. Credits: Jackie Lieberman
Credits: Jackie Lieberman
Credits: Jackie Lieberman

WESTFIELD, NJ - Just a few days before Thanksgiving, many streets in Westfield are still lined with branches and other debris left behind by the devastating October 29 snowstorm that at one point left 1,620 PSE&G customers without power.

While downtown and some school zones are cleared, according to Mayor Andy Skibitsky debris along about 50 percent of Westfield streets remains to be hauled way.

“Just the sheer volume of debris is something we’ve never had to deal with before,” said the mayor. “It’s going slowly. We have four crews out there—two on the North side and two on the South side.”

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Much of their time is spent driving to and from the conservation center on Lamberts Mill Road, where the debris is being collected. “Just a few households fills up a dump truck very quickly,” Skibitsky explained.

Town officials are reluctant to speed the process along by having crews work overtime, he said. “We’re trying to make sure we don’t blow our budget,” the mayor explained. He asked that residents remain patient until the cleanup can be completed. “It will take two to three weeks, I’d say, weather permitting.”

Meanwhile, some residents feel they have waited long enough.

“It seems a little slow. We just got the branches that fell from our trees picked up on Friday,” said Westfield resident Sharon Avni, who said she was not surprised. “I don’t think Westfield does a great job with services.”

Avni’s daughter attends Wilson Elementary School, which she said is still surrounded by so much storm debris and leaves for the mile or so that they travel that cars have trouble passing through and street parking has become severely limited.  “A lot of people walk, so that makes it dangerous,” she said.

Mayor Skibitsky noted that some towns are not picking up storm debris at all, leaving it to residents to remedy the problem. Westfield residents can help speed things along, he said, by bagging leaves so that crews can collect them faster and bringing debris to the conservation center http://www.westfieldnj.gov/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC=%7BA8F26F11-FA48-4429-9BA7-8D3ABBA9F04B%7D themselves when possible. He assured TheAlternativePress.com, “Our guys are out there working hard.”

Related article: Storm Recovery a Priority at Westfield Council Conference Meeting


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