Courier Post – Three Gloucester County legislators called Thursday for emergency aid
for areas hit hard by Tuesday’s thunderstorms.
The trio, including Senate President Steve Sweeney, also demanded the
state Board of Public Utilities “and each and every utility company do
everything they can” to restore power to hard-hit communities.
More than 90,000 customers had no power in the tri-county area
Thursday afternoon, utilities said. Blackouts could continue until
Sunday night for some customers of Atlantic City Electric.
“It’s really creating a difficult problem,” said Lorraine Rossiter,
71, of Clementon. She said many of her neighbors at the darkened
Wooster Towers senior complex were too frail to reach cooling centers
and recharging stations set up for storm victims.
“They’re not delivering ice here and it’s very difficult for the
seniors to get out,” said Rossiter, whose power was restored later
Sweeney, with Assembly members John J. Burzichelli and Adam
Taliaferro, urged Gov. Chris Christie to seek federal emergency aid to
help offset the cost of cleanup and recovery from the storms.
“We are asking the governor to take all action necessary in seeking
federal aid to assist with the cost of cleanup and offset the
financial burden on our residents,” Sweeney said.
In Camden County, freeholders directed the Office of Emergency
Management to prepare data for a possible disaster proclamation. The
proclamation, if issued by the state, would authorize the use of state
recovery funds in areas devastated by the storms.
A spokesman for Christie’s office said BPU President Richard Mroz
toured affected areas Thursday, “assessing the outages and
“Additionally, the state Office of Emergency Management is working in
coordination with the county Offices of Emergency Management to
monitor and assist in the region,” spokesman Brian T. Murray said.
“Preliminary damage assessments are still being made, but the state
OEM has been there from the beginning and remains on the scene, so the
damage is being surveyed by the state professionals who have an
expertise in such matters.”
PSE&G, with about 6,000 outages in the tri-county area on Thursday
afternoon, said it expected to restore power to all customers by
midday Friday. It said “98 percent” of restorations would take place
by midnight Thursday.
But Atlantic City Electric faces a bigger challenge, with 115,000
customers still in the dark at 7 p.m. Thursday. The utility said
outages affected about 36,000 customers in Camden County and 50,000 in
“We really appreciate our customers’ patience,” said Lendel Jones, a
utility representative. “We know it is a trying time.”
She said the thunderstorms, which pounded South Jersey for about 30
minutes, caused 280,000 outages — compared to 220,000 from Superstorm
Sandy in October 2012 and 206,000 from a violent wind storm in June
She said Tuesday’s storms had caused more damage to the utility’s
infrastructure, knocking down 20 transmission lines and closing eight
By Thursday afternoon, the utility had restored seven transmission
lines and all but one substation — a Wenonah facility badly damaged by
a fallen tree. “When a transmission line is restored, that helps us to
bring back large numbers of people,” Jones said.
In Mantua, a badly damaged firehouse off Center Street was relying on
a backup generator Thursday.
The storm peeled the building’s roof and dropped it into a neighbor’s
yard, lying like a massive sheet over a wooden fence and shed. Roof
debris, including the cap to a large fan, covered the yard of the same
Chief Brian Hauss said rain water poured through the damaged roof of
the firehouse during the storms.
“It was like all hell broke loose,” he said.
The fire department totaled 70 fire calls Tuesday night, running
emergency operations until 3 a.m., he said.
“We didn’t even get to assess our own damage,” Hauss said.
The storm’s impact continues to be felt, with NJ Transit saying it
would continue to suspend service Friday on its Philadelphia-Atlantic
And officials said hazards from fallen trees have closed two parks,
Berlin Park in Camden County and Atkinson Memorial Park in Washington
Delsea Regional High School in Franklin will be open from 3 to 9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday for residents without power. The school will
provide ice, water and the use of locker room showers.
Two recharging stations will operate Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30
p.m. at Gloucester County’s Government Services Building in Clayton
and the Mount Royal Fire Station in East Greenwich.