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.