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Wyckoff Mayor Slams Utilities' 'Disorganized,' 'Frustrating' Response

DePhillips: "They need to explain why things are taking so long, and why things are moving at a snail's pace."

In Wyckoff, where it is estimated that more than 3,000 families are still without power Sunday, the township's mayor expressed his lingering frustration with the response of utility companies.

Anger boiled over Saturday when the New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's office released a timetable revealing several utility companies' forecasts for restoring power across the state.

The township was listed on the timetable, which included only a timetable for PSE&G but not Orange & Rockland, but no restoration plans were revealed.

"This is outrageous," DePhillips said Sunday afternoon. "You can't not have crews here when people are freezing in their homes."

In an interview with Chris DePhillips Sunday, the mayor revealed that he had heard on Saturday that PSE&G had redistributed its resources to urban areas. He reached out to State Senator Kevin O'Toole that night to plead for help getting utility companies back into town, he said Sunday.

In an email obtained Sunday afternoon, Senator O'Toole's office confirmed to a Wyckoff resident conversations Saturday night between the senator and DePhillips, as well as between the senator and PSE&G Bergen County official Dave Hollenbeck.  

"Dave assured the Senator that there would still be crews in Wyckoff working to start removing trees from town so that power can be restored as quickly as possible," the email from O'Toole Chief of Staff Al Barlas read. "While this has been a slow and frustrating process, I can assure you that the coordination occurring between your Wyckoff elected officials and our office has been constant and daily. Everyone is solely focused on getting crews into Wyckoff and getting power restored."

In addition to the senator's office, DePhillips said he'd been pressing the Gov. Christie's office for further resources.

"But you have to have crews on the ground," DePhillips said. "I've been on the phone all friggin' day with these people... we're doing as much communication  as we can, [including] high-level conversations with utility officials morning, noon and night.

"The bottom line is ... this comes down to bodies," DePhillips said. "[The utiilty companies] need more crews. This is a private business and they need to staff up appropriately to get crews into our community." 

Beyond the obvious losses and inconveniences for township residents, many local stores had lost more than a week of business.

"The business losses have been substantial, DePhillips said. "It's really terribly frustrating. "

According to the mayor, utility crews had not been spotted in between last Tuesday and Sunday morning, but this may have been because of the "disorganized" utilities' reluctance to tell officials where they were operating in town. As of Sunday night, however, a number of additional restorations seem to indicate that DePhillips's persistent prodding may have paid off. 

The township provided a list Sunday of areas where power had been restored:

  1. West Main Street
  2. Parts of the Lakeview/Allison/Canterbury area.
  3. Parts of the area between Godwin Avenue, Franklin Avenue and Crescent Avenue.
  4. Parts of Sicomac area.
  5. Parts of the area between Crescent Avenue, Brookside Avenue, Franklin Avenue and Allendale border.
  6. Part of Midland Avenue/Burma and Deerfield area.
  7. The Christian Health Care Center.
  8. Parts of Franklin Avenue area from Godwin Avenue to the border with Waldwick and Barrister Court.
  9. Parts of Hickory Hill & Merrywood area.
  10. Parts of Lawlins Road.
  11. Parts of Pathway Manor/West Shore Drive area.
  12. Franklin Avenue from Godwin to Wyckoff Avenue
  13. Cornerstone Church
  14. Spring Meadow Senior Community
  15. Wyckoff YMCA

PSE&G representatives told DePhillips about 600 customers could expect to be returned to the grid between Sunday and Tuesday: 166 on Sunday, 215 on Monday and 223 on Tuesday.

Orange & Rockland township officials that

DePhillips requested representatives from both O&R and PSE&G at the Wyckoff Township Committee meeting on Monday at 7:30 p.m.  

He is requesting that the officials be on have to brief the committee and public on where they are with power restoration. 

"They need to explain why things are taking so long, and why things are moving at a snail's pace," DePhillips said.

PSE&G representatives have told DePhillips that someone will be on hand, but no one from O&R has yet confirmed attendance. 

DePhillips said that no serious hospitalizations or injuries have occurred since the storm ripped through the township last Monday. He was unsure of how many residents here had been displaced by Hurricane Sandy.

He did say, however, that there have been an increasing number of carbon monoxide calls received by the Wyckoff Volunteer Fire Department this week as residents have become increasingly dependent on gasoline-powered generators. 

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Joseph M. Gerace at Joseph.Gerace@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox every morning, sign up for our daily newsletter.

CCG November 07, 2012 at 11:35 PM
Instead of sitting on here bashing the local government, and eagerly awaiting rebuttals, how about going around helping out citizens who are truly in need. Go down to Hoboken, send items to the Jersey Shore. Be a true Wyckoffian, or move.
John A. Unglert November 07, 2012 at 11:56 PM
BTW Jackie, the Wyckoff health Department and the WPD, BOTH, do wellness checks on all seniors each day. Had you gone to the Town Hall or even called all of those needs could have been takend care of. And I will step further into it. You could have offered your own assistance and it would have been accepted. I did and it did and I am much better person for saying to Mr. Shannon, "Give me a call if there is anything I can do to help out." I did not get to my home before the call came in and I was off. And it was worth every second to volunteer for helping out anyone who came in. And I will do it over and over if necessary. You might want to consider doing the same thing. Our Mayor, and I have seen other members of the TC constantly at Town Hall, the firehouses, with the DPW, all working the same hours and more to get Wyckoff stable and in repair. Rather than critizing you can help out and get you hands dirty and be of benefit to your Town and neighbors. You will feel better for it, I assure you.
John A. Unglert November 07, 2012 at 11:59 PM
Ph, an everyone might just take a moment to say a THANK YOU to Scott Fisher and the DPW, the firemen, the ambulance corps, the police department ( INCLUDING the disp[atchers who worked endless hours also ) and so on. We should all stop into the Town Hall and offer a thanks to Mr. Shannon and Ellieen (sp sorry if I spelled that wrong ) and to our Town Clerk, Joyce and her team. And do not forget everyone else in that building, they ALL pitched in and I am grateful for each one of them. I would hope you feel the same.
David November 08, 2012 at 05:06 PM
I have been no fan of the mayor but when we are a town of 17,000 split between two utilities, one owned by ConEd, probably the worst utility in the US outside of Entergy in the south it is hard to blame the mayor. The problem rests with the state and the rules imposed on the utlitlies. The answer is not to bury everything as who would pay for it? Maybe all new construction could be buried but it is not going to happen in areas like this. If the utiliites had better response plans than this would not have been as bad. Crews should have been out with tree companies on day 1 clearing everything. How many days are we going to have to drive by the house on Monroe that has a tree that crushed both their cars and is sitting on the wires. So yes the mayor can call every day, as does every mayor up here in Bergen County, but until the state puts more conditions on the utilities, which they voted not to do in the last year the situation will not improve. Get rid of O&R nice idea, but PSEG's response in this area has not been much better.
CCG November 08, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Rooney doesn't own the gas station, it is family owned. You should get your facts straight prior to posting, then you wouldn't sound ignorant.

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