New Jersey Governor Chris Christie Gives Update on Snow Storm


New Jersey Governor Chris Christie issued the following update:

This morning, President Solomon, the Chief of Staff and I had a conference call with the presidents of PSE&G and JCP&L to get a briefing on the situation following this weekend’s storm. I know that there’s many people across New Jersey in nearly 400,000 homes who are still frustrated by the fact that they don’t have power. I want to assure everyone that efforts to restore power to critical infrastructure and homes here in New Jersey is moving forward as quickly as possible. Now we reached a peak of nearly 750,000 residents that were impacted by the outage over the weekend. While a considerable number are back online now we still have nearly 400,000 who need their power back. The most severely impacted counties are Morris County at 92,000, Bergen County at 83,000, Essex at 54,000, and Hunterdon at 31,000.

The leaders from both utilities after a conversation with myself and BPU President Solomon have assured us that by the end of Thursday over 95% of homes will have power restored. Residents should see a steady reduction between now and then and we’ve already been seeing that over the last twelve to twenty-four hours. I know that if you are without power today Thursday seems like a long time from now, which is why we’re working to give the utility companies additional resources to get this situation resolved as quickly as possible considering the challenge.

The biggest challenge here and the thing that makes it even more difficult than Irene is the tree situation. This is really a power outage driven by the snow and the fact that the leaves were still on the trees so we have trees down all across the northern part of the state that have taken wires down, both supply wires, transmission lines, and lines directly to homes. Part of the problem is they have to get the transmission lines in first, and when those get established and they throw the switch again to energize those lines, then where individual lines are down throughout that area, transformers start blowing everywhere where those lines are down. Then they have to go back and fix those lines and those transformers. There’s no way for them to really know where those lines are and how many are affected until they reenergize those substations and so it’s a process. Our power was out in our home from about 3:00 on Saturday afternoon until about 7:30 or so last night, and still not all of my town is back on for the reason I just laid out to you. In some areas individual lines were directly affected and you had transformers blowing out last night in Mendham where I live.

The utility companies have been working around the clock. We’ve got between the two companies there are over 1200 crews that are on the roads dealing with removing downed trees and repairing lines. For JCP&L, more out-of-state crews arrived this morning. For PSE&G they said by this afternoon there will be some out-of-state crews from Georgia Power will be arriving later on this afternoon to assist them as well. They mentioned to me and to President Solomon on the conference call that on some county and local roads they’re still having trouble getting access to certain areas. All state roads are now cleared and so I directed them to send by noon today a list to us of county or local roads that were in a priority fashion that were causing the biggest impediment to them getting this done as quickly as possible. Once I receive that list I will then direct DOT Commissioner Simpson to divert state resources to deal with these blockages on county and local roads and to coordinate with county road and local road officials to be able to get this done as quickly as possible.

I understand that all of this information, if you’re somebody who doesn’t have power, is just talk, until the lights go back on and the heat goes back on in your house. I get that; I lived it over the last thirty-six hours. But I want you to know that every morning between now and when this is resolved President Solomon and I will be having a conference call with the presidents of those two companies. We’ll be getting ongoing updates during the day. I know that JCP&L has been holding conference calls with mayors to inform the mayors of the affected towns what’s going on, to keep them well-informed so that they can keep their citizens well-informed. I know also both companies have been communicating with leaders and individual members of the state Legislature to try to keep them involved.

Now lastly, on this topic, New Jersey Transit has crews that work across the rail lines that are out of service. I know that there are still significant rails out of service, trees that took down overhead power lines have been removed and now crews are working to restore the power to both the signal wires and the catenary wires. NJ Transit is working to fully restore service as soon as possible. We’ll have an update for you later today on the progress that they’re making but just on the Morris-Essex Line alone, there were over twenty spots along that line where catenary lines and signal lines were taken out, so it would be impossible to operate without those lines restored and we have it in over twenty different places in just one line. That’s trees coming down on the tracks or on the lines in twenty different spots just on the Morris and Essex Line. You’re talking about much more significant damage to the rail system than we had during Irene.

Finally, it’s Halloween. I know that there could be lots of families tonight with young children who are going to want to take their kids out to trick or treat. Please be careful. In most towns I would hope by tonight they would have fallen lines isolated and marked and cordoned off but you can’t count on that and so please take flashlights with you. Be extra careful as you walk around. We do not want any loss of life tonight during trick or treating because people weren’t paying real attention to the danger that’s out there. I can’t quantify the danger. I can’t tell you exactly where it is. I know municipalities are working along with the BPU to make sure that all of these things are identified but at the moment we can’t say for sure that we have all that squared away. So if you’re going to go out trick or treating tonight with your kids please be particularly careful. Bring flashlights so that you can see the ground in front of you. Try to stay on sidewalks and on the roadways rather than walking on grass where it would be more difficult to see some fallen lines as well. So that’s the topic on the storm.


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