DPW Crews Working 'Round the Clock, Mayor Says
They are cutting down trees where they can and clearing roads.
The township's Department of Public Works crews have been on the scene continuously since Hurricane Sandy to clear trees and debris from roads, Mayor Dan Hayes told the township council Thursday.
Hayes said that crews are cutting trees down when they can, but they cannot cut any trees or poles that are attached to wires because of a fear for safety.
"The safety of the workers is of utmost concern, and that is always a concern," he said. "In the height of the storm, they had to be called back because the winds were too bad."
But these crews are driving around town now to make repairs where they can, and Hayes said they are literally following the utility trucks to get to work as soon as wires are removed.
"Essentially, we are following PSE&G and JCP&L trucks whenever they are in the area and asking them to report to us, although often that is not the case," he said. "We track them, follow them and sometimes go with multiple crews so that as soon as the wires are removed, our crews can get to work."
Hayes said he has been very proud of the township's emergency workers throughout this ordeal.
"I was completely awed by the many first responders and the organization that the emergency personnel put together," he said. "It is hundreds of people working together to protect the lives and properties of hundreds of thousands of people."
"I am proud of the Bridgewater residents who volunteer and those on staff," he added.
For example, in one situation Hayes said, a woman had her house hit by a tree and she had to leave.
"She was living in a tough situation with family crowding in one home, and the situation was overwhelming," he said. "She asked how to get the tree off her house and about inspections. She was completely unprepared to deal with it."
Hayes said they sent an inspector to her house to verify it was safe.
"She was able to relocate back, and began to work with her insurance company," he said.
"We have hundreds of stories like that to get people what they needed to know and when they needed to know it," he added. "It's a credit to the people on the staff."
One other concern, Hayes said, was that this kind of situation could lead to an increase in crime.
"There is a challenge in these types of events, looting and crime is of course present," he said.
Police did apprehend one burglar, Hayes said, who was breaking into businesses on Route 28 and stealing cash while the power was out.
"My hats off to the police on that," he said.
"This has been an outstanding effort for the emergency teams, Red Cross and the CERT team," he added.