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Mayor Blasts PSE&G For Lack of Communication

Power could be out until Wednesday, utility company says.

Teaneck Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin blamed Public Service Electric & Gas for poor communication with local officials as thousands of township residents remained without power Sunday after a powerful winter storm hit the area.

Township crews need PSE&G to first clear downed wires before trees can be removed, but Hameeduddin said Teaneck officials have been unable to get the utility to coordinate with the town or provide details on when utility crews would arrive. 

“I don’t know when their crews are coming,” Hameeduddin said. “The communication is just not here.”

Hameeduddin said he wanted a PSE&G crew specifically assigned to hard hit Teaneck. The crew could have worked side-by-side with DPW tree removal teams before moving to other towns, the mayor proposed.

“It’s hard to plan out resources when you’re sitting here waiting for a phone call,” he said.

Hameeduddin said he has received vague emailed updates from PSE&G, similar to those sent to the news media, about when power would be restored. The company has said it cannot comment on specific local outages, but its outage map showed at least 10,000 customers without power in Teaneck Sunday.  Police said a large portion of town was still out, and the police station was running from a generator. 

“They have a duty to give the right information,” Hameeduddin said of the utility. “Everyone wants the right information.”  

Hameeduddin questioned why PSE&G hasn’t held a press conference about the widespread outages. 

The lack of communication from PSE&G is not new and officials faced the same problem in the past several storms, Hameeduddin said.

“I’ve had it with them,” he said. “It makes absolutely no sense the way they [PSE&G] are handling this.”

The biggest concern is bad information getting out. Residents need accurate information to plan how they will ride out the storm, he said. Teaneck officials have been working hard to clear roads, but the sweeping power outage was the biggest problem.

“The streets are clear, it’s the electricity that’s the problem,” Hameeduddin said, noting the DPW has worked hard to remove snow. 

A PSE&G spokesperson said Sunday afternoon the company was in touch with the township, but could not provide specifics. Customers could be out until Wednesday, the company has said. 

The company has said crews have worked through the night to restore power and extra staff has been brought in. About 324,000 PSE&G customers were without power as of around noon Sunday. In Bergen County, 140,349 customers were out, according to numbers provided by the State Police Emergency Operations Center. 

James Hall October 31, 2011 at 02:53 PM
I live on George Street and power went out like everyone else and then the trees started coming down all around us. There is a tree on a neighbor's house that no one has even come to look at. There are downed lines that I myself moved. There is a tree hanging on lines blocking the road. Not once in the almost 48 hours since it began have I seen a patrol car, a public works car or anything for that matter. No one has checked us out. They (PSEG) are telling me December 2nd we should be restored. I am thinking that is a glitch in their system. The disaster is a combination of several issues that have been poorly handled. The first is the inability of the town to maintain its trees, they are old and need more care than previous. If they won't let me cut it down because of fear of it falling on my house then in my opinion it is their responsibility to ensure it doesn't or face the aftermath. Secondly is the lack of communication from PSE&G which others have stated previously. The third is the lack of visible presence in our area if law enforcement or public works. At least put up a barricade to the street. Let us know that at least you are aware of the problems. Overall very disappointed in the town and service. This is the third major outage in the area in two years. Each time it has been tree related, at least for us over in this area of town. What is also sad is that at least a block away there are lights because of being on a different grid and they never go out.
James Hall October 31, 2011 at 02:57 PM
To add to my rant above I would like to add that I would like to give a lot of credit and thanks to the fire department, police and emergency services for all their hard work and dedication over the last 48 hours. I know I complained I didn't see them but from the continuous sirens heard around the clock and for the house fire early this morning they have had their hands full. Again thank you.
CD's mom October 31, 2011 at 03:09 PM
I just called PSE&G as my power has been out since 2 pm Saturday afternoon. You know what they told me???? My power will be restored by 11:59 pm Friday, DECEMBER 2nd!!!! Wow, really????? They have got to do better than this.
Jim Dunleavy October 31, 2011 at 04:40 PM
Until we want our taxes raised or PSE&G bills to skyrocket to pay for putting wires underground, I am afraid this is something we will have to deal with. WE have a battered array of trees in town from previous storms. Perhaps town emphasis on cutting trees back around wires would be a good use of available funds. The "Tree City" though will have change the name with many more of these storms. As for PSE&G it is interesting that they immediately had a robo answering system giving datea out many days before restoration should occur. I got my power back (Cumberland Ave) a day and a half earlier than the utility's answer. More coordination and better communication is always good. Focusing on solutions even better. Allowing our frustrations to make judgements about who is wrong without solutions is a waste of time.
Teaneck_Resident October 31, 2011 at 04:45 PM
the problem is that moat "investigations" with PSEG go nowhere, it's all a dog and pony show. The only way to force change is to not accept the dog and pony show as a solution. we need to make pseg responsible for thier lack of responsibility.
Samuel October 31, 2011 at 09:05 PM
Actually a class action suit was succesful against Con Ed a few years back. They proved Con Ed was negligent in a outage back in 2006. So if PSEG turned off grids where there should be power or if they ignored Teaneck with over 10k outages to help more affluent towns first even though they have much less the an investigation will uncover it.
Kristen October 31, 2011 at 11:02 PM
I am glad that you have a sense of humor among all of this :) unless of course dinning on squirrels is a regular thing for you.
James Hall November 01, 2011 at 02:02 PM
Almost 72 hours now and still nothing on the 700 block of George Street. Had half hoped there would be utility trucks on the street to start clearing the trees and hanging branches this morning. Yet still nothing. Walked the entire area and not a single truck, not a town vehicle or a PSE&G vehicle. The south end of George and John Streets had power returned yesterday so there must have been workers down there. I guess they just left. Why is it that this small section is always the last to be worked on. Third time now we are left until the last minute.
Yitzchak Hollander November 01, 2011 at 02:57 PM
We got our power back yesterday, but it went out again overnight. I did see a DPW crew clearing trees, and the TPD and TFD are doing great work. But I haven't seen any PSE&G vehicles. Still lots of downed wires in my neighborhood.
Tee Smyth November 01, 2011 at 05:35 PM
Driving around town is akin to skiing the slalom.
henry frisch November 02, 2011 at 12:44 AM
Just got home to clean up the mess. Who at PSEG arranges to reimburse us for all the food we have to discard?
Teaneck_Resident November 02, 2011 at 12:52 PM
Samuel, What was the outcome of the Con Ed investigation other than the discovery that they were negligent? In other words lets say it is uncovered that PSEG turned of grids and ignored Teaneck with over 10K outages to help more affluent towns then what happens?
Teaneck_Resident November 02, 2011 at 12:52 PM
Luckily my power came back on Tuesday around 11am, however, I'm not in anyway expecting it to last.
Teaneck_Resident November 02, 2011 at 12:54 PM
I don't think they do, but please let us know if they do so as I want all my food reimburse as well. I can only imaging the amount of water in the basements of those that have sumps with no backup unit (or unit where the batteries died). If I ever move I'm looking for a house with no basement.
James Hall November 02, 2011 at 02:19 PM
Still no clean up on George Street. Someone put yellow tape across the road that's about it. PSE&G says tonight but highly doubtful considering the damage. Wonder who is going to reimburse me for the food, the hotel we will need to get if this continues and the inconvenience. Funny thing is I got a call this morning from PSE&G telling me they need to have an accurate meter reading and would like to schedule an appointment. People without power and they want to get paid.
Brian November 02, 2011 at 03:38 PM
Mom, I'm a reporter for WNBC. Could you pls email me at briang.thompson@nbc.com
CHUCK November 02, 2011 at 04:12 PM
JUSTTTTT GOT POWER ON NORTHUMBERLAND ROAD !! A crew was driving by and decided to fix the down wire that has been there since Saturday !! We are so lucky. If they hadn't driven by we would still have no power !!
Benjamin Burnat November 02, 2011 at 06:31 PM
Still waiting for power on Wyndham rd.
Daniel M. Rosenblum November 02, 2011 at 07:01 PM
So, could someone explain why, after we did NOT lose power over the weekend and on Monday, our power suddenly went out without warning at 1 PM on Tuesday, November 1, three days after the storm? This happened to a number of streets east of Teaneck Rd between East Cedar Lane and Route 4. (I don't want to steal attention from the folks who've been without power for four or five days now -- obviously they're in far worse shape than we are, but it is frustrating not to have any understanding of why this would happen so long after the storm.)
DMAB6395 November 02, 2011 at 07:04 PM
Josh it's not so much the trees with this issue. Yes the trees coming down is a big part but the point is people calling PSE&G telling them we have no power & PSE&G telling them they have power! I'm sitting in the dark-no lights, no heat etc telling you we have no power-your sitting on your fat ass (no you by the way you I mean PSE&G) telling me that your power grid map says we do have power. Get off your fat or skinny ass & come down to Teaneck & see that we have no power. Our police & fire dept had no power either. Please give me a break-yes the trees falling started this mess but PSE&G telling people that they are crazy because we have power that's a disgrace!!!! I hope that the people who are out of power get a rebate for the time that their powers out. Don't pay for the time you don't have the power. I also hope that people who are still waiting for power get it back real soon. I know a close friend of ours in Bergenfield is still without power. He's using our generator & our little portable heaters.
DMAB6395 November 02, 2011 at 07:13 PM
For those who said they want to call Sen. Loretta Weinberg & couldn't get thru here's her email addy: SenWeinberg@njleg.org I signed a petition awhile back & she sent me an email. Now she sends an email to me almost monthly so I know up until the power outage this was her email addy. Good luck & yes I will be one of them to send an email to her because this is a disgrace. I can handle the cold & such but I have a 75 year old Dad living with me with Dementia & very bad arthritis. I have senior citizens as neighbors. I find this a disgrace that they call PSE&G to be told they are crazy they have power. I also find it a disgrace that these politicians that are supposed to be here for us & that a majority of senior citizens vote them into office are also pushed to side. I think it's time since election day is only days away remember this when we go & vote. No matter what the election is for. Let them know that you are not happy. Again here's Lorretta Weinberg's email addy: SenWeinberg@njleg.org I urger you to email her & tell her we will no longer put up with this.
Teaneck_Resident November 02, 2011 at 10:48 PM
Lorretta Weinberg will be hearing fom me and hopefully all of the Teaneck's residents. Of course she'll make a big dog and pony show and try and make it seem as if she cares and then dump the issues once it cools off.
Jim Dunleavy November 03, 2011 at 12:23 AM
Can anyone share with me what they specifically want Senator Weinberg to do?
zizi November 03, 2011 at 05:24 AM
I think Senator Weinberg should do what she should do.... legislate the crap out of PSE&G....... Tell them.... fix the things that are wrong or face the legislative power...... Public utilities have to live by legislation......
Art Vatsky November 03, 2011 at 08:59 AM
The place to send e-mails is the NJ Public Service Commission (it may have a slightly different name like "Public Utilities Commission"), rather than Sen. Weinberg. It is the Commission that regulates - not legislates - the utilities in NJ. I don't know how well PSEG will rate compared to prior storms or other utiiities involved in emergency repair. If you see a lineman working, give him/her a wave and a thanks. (You can't offer them a warm cup of coffee as you have no power.) They go where they are sent. They may be working overtime. Their own homes/families may be without power. Emergency electric repair is neither easy or safe. If they take shortcuts, they put their lives at risk. Likewise, send an email to the Township Council. I feel the township and PSEG need to form a "tree care partnership". The town will care for the trees on a regular basis, culling the sick, damaged, dying trees on a regular basis. That should reduce the number of outages that occur when a storm hits. I checked Teaneck budgets going back to about 2005. We budget $75,000 a year to maintain all the township trees. That seems a grossly inadequate sum. It's possible the number budget be ten times higher. That is still less than we spend on legal fees. The Council may have its own agenda. The Mayor's rant against PSEG may just be a tactic to shift responsibility from the township to PSEG. The truth is our trees have not been well maintained. Shame on us.
henry frisch November 03, 2011 at 10:06 AM
How about an ordinance permitting home owners to remove trees on the township portion of their properties at their own expense if they wish? Also, much damage is done by seemingly healthy trees. That has been the case in this storm to a great degree.
Teaneck_Resident November 03, 2011 at 06:51 PM
I'll be filing a complaint this evening. I'm sure it will be used as a diaper by the regulatory commission as well as PSEG, but I can't just sit back and not swing back at PSEG.
Jacob November 03, 2011 at 07:23 PM
Now THERE'S an idea. Unfortunately, the tree huggers would never allow it.
Teaneck_Resident November 04, 2011 at 10:06 AM
How about if for every tree cut a new smaller tree is planted to replace it? Big trees are great in a forest but not a township.
Reading & Watching November 07, 2011 at 02:36 PM
This is a great idea. I requested someone come out and evaluate a tree which constantly drops large branches/limbs onto my car. I was told it is a “healthy tree” and could not be cut down. Thankfully, they pruned one side of the tree however during the storm the large limbs toward my house snapped and were hanging perilously close to my home. I paid to have those limbs cut and removed. I can’t wait for someone to come out and “evaluate” during this crisis. I have already lost heat, electricity, food, and the comfort of my home I will not wait to lose windows, siding, roof, etc.

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