Tropical Storm Isaias dealt an extraordinarily strong blow to New Jersey. Governor Murphy declared a State of Emergency on Tuesday and stated that over 1.3 million NJ residents lost power as a result of the storm. As of this morning, 81,752 residents were without power in Bergen County. Orange and Rockland stated that two-thirds of its 300,000 customers were without power – with over 38,000 in Bergen County. This is the 2nd largest outage since Superstorm Sandy where 250,000 O and R customers were out.
O and R crews have been assessing the damage. A full list of downed trees, damaged poles and outages has been provided by the Borough. As with prior storms, downed trees entangled with wires cannot be removed until an O and R crew inspects the wire and declares them safe to be removed. All of our main roads are open at this time but some side roads are not cleared just yet. Clearing roadways and ensuring public safety is the first priority. As always, please observe safety cones and barricades for your own safety. A tree trimming crew is currently working in town. Multiple large transmission lines, or circuits, are currently out. These lines must be restored and trees cleared before they can turn them back on. Power is like water, it does not stay within municipal or state lines. Crews may be working in neighboring towns to restore these large circuits – but their restoration will restore homes in ours. Once they are restored, a majority of outages will be restored, then the smaller lines will be addressed.
I have been in contact with Governor Murphy’s office, Congressman Gottheimer and Assemblyman Bob Auth. They have all been responsive and ready to answer questions or help where they can. Today I participated in a call with O and R held to update municipalities on the extent of the damage across their service area.
After the power outage due to a storm in March of 2018, mayors in the NW Bergen Mayors Association, whose towns are served by O and R, had a series of meetings with O and R executives to review their response. We were reassured by the President and other executives that improvements and enhancements were put into place as a result of our discussions and they did refer to those measures on the call today.
Unfortunately, due to the magnitude of the damage, in Bergen County and throughout the state, there will not be a quick fix and everyone needs to realize we may be looking at a period of time before full restoration is achieved. Restoration times for each home can not accurately be predicted just yet, however, according to today’s call, O and R will publish estimated restoration times tonight for their entire service area, and by county tomorrow. There will be another conference call tomorrow and hopefully more specifics will be made available.
IMPORTANT – PLEASE DO NOT CALL THE USR POLICE DESK TO ASK ABOUT RESTORATION TIMES. The Police Desk is being overwhelmed with calls and it had already been explained to NOT CALL them for this purpose. Do not tie up the dispatch desk and phone lines – leave them available for emergencies.
Report all outages, or check restoration status, on O and R’s website, www.oru.com/outage or call 1-877-434-4100.
If the service line to your home has become disconnected, you will need to have an electrician repair it in order to have power restored. You can contact the Building Dept for information at 201-934-3966 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain an emergency permit and a “cut card”, required by the state in these circumstances.
I know that we have all been challenged and stressed for the last few months. No one expected or needed a tropical storm or a power outage. Please remain patient and recognize the magnitude of the damage not only in the Borough of Upper Saddle River but throughout the state.
Some safety tips:
Maintain a distance of at least 50 feet from downed wires and anything they are in contact with including puddles of water and fences. Supervise your children so that they are not in the vicinity and keep pets on a leash or otherwise secure.
If a fallen wire is draped over a car, do not approach the car and make rescue attempts. Remain a safe distance away and try to keep the occupant of the vehicle calm. If possible, emergency personnel should handle the situation.
Pole-top transformers — those small grey-colored metal drums attached to the wires at the tops of most utility poles — also should be avoided when they have been knocked to the ground.
Portable generators pose a serious hazard if used improperly. They should be used and installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions. A wrong connection could feed electricity back through the lines and endanger our repair crews. Never plug a generator into a wall unit, use it indoors or set it up outdoors near open home windows or air-handling vents.
Have emergency equipment within reach — portable radio, flashlights, spare batteries, first aid kit, cell phone and important medications. Keep O&R’s toll-free number 1-877-434-4100 near the phone to report power outages.
Remember: if the base station of your cordless phone plugs into the wall, your phone will be unusable during a power outage.
We will continue to update everyone as we receive information. Stay safe.
Mayor Joanne Minichetti