WESTFIELD, NJ — The town is collecting storm debris from municipally owned trees only, the mayor said.

Mayor Shelley Brindle said Friday that the municipality will not be conducting curbside pickup of storm debris, a service the town has only provided in the “severest of emergencies.”

Gov. Phil Murphy had declared a state of emergency for Tropical Storm Isaias, which knocked out power for over 3,500 customers in Westfield Tuesday and took down trees and branches throughout the municipality, blocking numerous roadways.

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Part of the decision to not pick up storm debris, Brindle said in a storm update, stems from the town’s experience following three nor’easters in 2018.

“It took the DPW two months to pick up the debris, exacerbated by landscapers who dumped their non-storm debris in the streets, thereby prolonging the process,” Brindle said. “As a result, any ongoing town maintenance work was neglected or deferred.”

Town officials determined that following Tropical Storm Isaias, the department of public works would not be able to switch from emergency tree work to storm pickup for at least two weeks, she said.

The Conservation Center is open to all residents and accepting storm debris, with no permit required, through Aug.16, officials said. Expanded hours are Tuesday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. — 2:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. — 3 p.m. 

Lifelong Westfield, an initiative of the mayor’s senior advisory council, is organizing volunteers to pick up storm debris for seniors who need assistance, Brindle said. Westfield will be organizing volunteers to remove storm debris for seniors who need assistance on Tuesday of next week, she said. Seniors requesting assistance should email westfieldnjseniors@gmail.com, Brindle said.

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Brindle has also advised the public to submit requests for pickup of town tree debris to the Westfield Connect App, a smartphone application through which residents can submit service requests. Click here to view service requests and submit new requests.

“Please know that it will likely take weeks to get to every request, but you can help our dedicated DPW employees by using this app — again, for issues with town trees only — so that they can best organize and prioritize their response teams accordingly,” Brindle said.

Westfield police had reported that as of 11:15 a.m. five roads remained impassable and 28 roadways that were previously blocked had been cleared. Police said traffic lights on Central Avenue/Cacciola Place/Park Street were functioning on emergency power.

As of 2:30 p.m. Saturday, 85 customers in Westfield remained without power, according to PSE&G’s outage map.

“PSE&G knows and acknowledge they are at day five for these customers and realize tempers may be short.”

Police said that PSE&G had deployed contractors from the company Storm Services and that 200 of the “damage assessment contractors” were being deployed throughout the area.

“They are only there to help and if they get into a situation they cannot handle, they will access the 911 system for help,” the statement from Westfield police said.

Email Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net | Twitter: @MattKadosh

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