Remove JCP&L From Bridgewater, Petition Says
A Sunset Lake resident is looking for better management from the electric company.
A total of about 15 homes are on day 12 without power on Rosemary Drive, and just recently had crews out to clear wires and poles that were blocking the only exit and entrance off their street—and now they want a little accountability.
Rosemary Drive resident Neha Pallod Limaye has taken that on with a petition she started Thursday to get JCP&L out of Bridgewater.
"Our problem is with the management," she said, noting that she doesn't care which power company they have so long as the management does its job. "Whichever company services us has to be managed. We need answers from JCP&L and the governor."
The problem began after Hurricane Sandy hit, when residents of the road in Sunset Lake realized that five 100-year-old trees had fallen, taking down power lines and blocking the only way off the street itself.
"We couldn't get our cars out for eight days to get access to the outside world," Limaye said, adding that this applied to both her street and Evergreen Drive.
Residents, Limaye said, called JCP&L during that time to try and get them to take care of the wires so the township crews could remove the trees. She said they would call the power company and give them information, then, two days later, when they checked in again they were told there was no record of the earlier call.
"We spoke to workers who came up from North Carolina, and they said they had not gotten any work orders," she said. "And a worker came here and said the area looks like a war zone."
"FEMA said the same thing," she added.
And now, Limaye said, the prediction is that power will be restored by Sunday.
"That seems impossible," she said.
On Tuesday, Limaye said, she started a Facebook group of people disappointed by the lack of response from JCP&L. Within a couple days, there were 500 members in the group, all with similar stories about the situation.
"People are frustrated," she said. "We knew this storm would be bad, and we understand things take awhile. But we need people to take a look here."
"We can plan our lives [if we have some information], but we're stuck knowing nothing," she added.
And finally, Limaye said, she opted to start the petition to get JCP&L out of Bridgewater. At this point, she said, 25 people have already signed, and there are two other petitions, one for the entire state and one for Wayne.
But the problem, Limaye said, is with the lack of management coming from JCP&L. The linemen, she said, are doing what they're supposed to do, but they're not getting any direction from their superiors of where to go and what work needs to be done.
The residents of Sunset Lake are especially hurting, Limaye said.
"Sunset Lake is always last because no one needs to go there for anything," she said. "We were probably the worst hit in Bridgewater, and we thought we would get some attention to at least assess the damage."
And there were some medical issues, Limaye said, including a woman with cancer who had to be taken by gurney to the hospital for regular treatments, as well as a 7-months pregnant woman who needed to be able to have access to get out of the area if she needed to see a doctor.
Limaye said Bridgewater Township Mayor Dan Hayes has been supportive of her cause and has been keeping her apprised of his calls with JCP&L every day. And he even agreed that the area was the worst hit in the township, she said.
"It's an enclave of homes, and trees in that area blocked completely the egress of the community so fire and safety vehicles could not access it," Hayes said in his report on the storm to the township council Thursday. "It was unacceptably long, although continuously reported. It did not get addressed until Sunday, and when crews arrived, they were undermanned."
"That was a clear miss in protocols, and is on my list for post-management discussion," he added.
Limaye said it is all about the management of JCP&L and the logging system they have in place right now.
"Reports are not being logged, and crews don't know what they're doing or where they're going," she said. "They have been saying they were well-prepared, but we knew how bad it would be, so how well were they prepared?"
"The customer service is failing," she added.
And without power, Limaye said, the residents in Sunset Lake also don't have water. She said many of them have been going to the Shimon and Sara Birnbaum Jewish Community Center for water, showers and a place to do work.
"The JCC did a better job than JCP&L," she said. "We didn't need shelter, but they thought ahead."
"We need JCP&L to be courteous enough, and the fear is they are never going to change if we don't do something," she added.
The Facebook page, Limaye said, has already been sent to Don Lynch, the president of JCP&L, as well as Gov. Chris Christie. She has not received a response from either.
"We would love to have a public hearing with Lynch," she said. "We need answers."
As for the petition, Limaye said, she will be sending it to Bridgewater Township, the Board of Public Utilities and Christie, although she hopes to get more signatures first.
"I am going to go door to door if I have to," she said.
At this point, Limaye said, there are some workers working on the problem at her street, but that doesn't mean power will be restored anytime soon.
"I am not sure if they can restore today," she said. "But at least there's someone there."
"What we need is the governor to speak up," she added. "He says JCP&L is doing a good job, but we don't see it."
And Limaye said that once power is restored, that doesn't mean the fight will be over. The area, she said, already dealt with a couple days without power after Hurricane Irene and more than a week without power after the October 2011 snowstorm.
At this point, Limaye said, it is about being better prepared for the next time.
"We will keep fighting," she said. "We don't want to lose sight of this when the power comes back. We want to prevent it from happening again."
"Even a little bit of work helps," she added. "We want to be heard."
To sign the petition, click here.
To join the Facebook group, click here.