UPDATE: Snowstorm's Aftermath Leaves Lots of Question Marks

One question: Will there be school on Monday?

Following a freak, giant snowstorm on Saturday, Montclair residents were asking a lot of questions on Sunday.

For example, how will they get to work on Monday?

NJ Transit has announced a suspension of some services for Oct. 31 due to downed trees and overhead wires.

DeCamp buses—which are cross-honoring NJ Transit tickets—are running according to their normal schedule although weather-related delays can be expected.

Will there be garbage collection on Monday?

The Department of Community Services announced late Sunday that garbage collection would go ahead as scheduled on Monday.

But perhaps the biggest question of all? Will there be school on Monday?

Seton Hall Prep in West Orange and many surrounding school districts announced they will be closed on Monday. And, late Sunday, Montclair announced that schools here will be closed on Monday as well.

Montclair State University, however, remains open for regular business activities. Currently, all buildings on the main campus have electrical power and heat. All classes and all business operations, except for the Children's Center which will be closed, will run on a normal schedule on Monday.

Another question is: What should people do when a giant branch falls in their yard. The answer?

"If the giant branch is from a township or county tree, folks should call the township/county," said Katya Wowk, Montclair's communications director. "If they are private property trees, they will need to take care of removal themselves."

In addition, many Montclair residents were wondering when their power might be restored.

One resident, Amelie Tseng, lost power on Saturday, then got it back on Sunday morning, only to lose it again Sunday afternoon.

Other residents said they were told by PSE&G officials that they would not get power back until Tuesday or Wednesday.

But, according to Wowk, crews have been out en masse on Sunday in areas with downed trees and wires while PSE&G has been handling downed power lines as fast as it can.

As soon as roads have been cleared and made safe for snow removal, crews will begin clearing snow, she said.

Also troubling for some residents is that area grocery stores such as A&P on Valley Road were closed on Sunday due to power outages.

Even so, bright sunshine on Sunday morning indicated that an end was in sight to a horrific stretch of treacherous winter weather.

Some parts of Essex County received a foot of snow with Montclair getting at least six inches or more. Newark reported five inches of snow and Central Park got three inches, according to the National Weather Service.

Officials estimated that more than half the residents of Montclair were without power on Sunday and many other residents reported that—horror of horrors—they were without both phone and Internet services.

The fire department reported several fires in Montclair, including a two-alarm house fire at 408 Upper Mountain Avenue on Saturday afternoon, but no injuries.

On Sunday, Valley Road near Montclair State University was closed due to all the downed power lines and branches.

Jersey Central Power & Light officials told Millburn Mayor Sandra Haimoff and other municipal representatives that because of the snowstorm more than 160,000 people are without power in Essex, Morris and Sussex counties and that number is going to go up before it goes down.

Trees have fallen on electrical wires and there have been fires, she said they told her, but because it's going to keep snowing until midnight, crews will have difficulty getting in and fixing it.

"It's like Irene all over again," she said. "The people who are most anxious about this because it's getting dark, have no power won't be able to get any information."

Indeed, the treacherous early season snowstorm prompted Mayor Jerry Fried and other officials to warn residents to stay inside their homes on Saturday.

"Branches are falling down everywhere," Fried said.

The most snow on record reported in the New York metropolitan area was .8 inches in October 1925, according to Walker. He said Newark, New Jersey's largest city, had .3 inches that same month in 1952.

The good news is that Halloween will be cold but clear. Monday's forecast calls for a partly sunny day with a high of 50 and a low of 42.

On Saturday, though, traveling was indeed extremely hazardous due to snow-covered roads and reduced visibilities.

"Tree branches are falling right and left," said Montclair resident Tom Follier. "I can hear them coming down all over."

Recreational soccer games were canceled in Montclair on Saturday, as were other events such as Strut Your Mutt (rescheduled for Nov. 5) and Girls on the Run. The sports dome over at the Walnut Street Train Station lost power Saturday afternoon and events there were canceled as well. Many church services were canceled on Sunday morning.

For the latest information on the storm, visit the National Weather Service website.


anonyomous November 01, 2011 at 01:44 PM
Was there not one warming station in these two towns??? Shouldnt have Caldwell/West Caldwell made an attempt to try to do something for some of the seniors/families with children maybe offer coffee/hot chocolate at a firehouse/caldwell library, etc that HAD power. I personally know families that were cramming in their cars to get heat. Are we a third world country here? No, perhaps we should focus on more important issues like what to make the "2nd pool in town" - lets get our priorities straight - isn't there an election soon? too bad no one step up to the plate or at least tried to (besides your neighbor) ......
anonyomous November 01, 2011 at 02:17 PM
WOW - thank you WEST CALDWELL Civic Center for stepping up - thanks Christine for posting - what about CALDWELL Community Center??? - (well they did give out halloween candy yesterday - thats important)
Don November 01, 2011 at 02:22 PM
In general, these days..electricity meters are remotely readable, in many communities, they may be able to call up very precise info on where they are not reading useage. Even if they can't call up an hour by hour, minute by minute graph of each customer's usasge, they should have that data by neighborhood, or by block.. This is he 21st century, not the 19th, and if they can't read them by querying them directly, they still know a lot, even without people calling them. Because I would guess that at this point, all of their more recent (<15-20 yo) substation equipment contains both hardware to perform system diagnostics and some method of communicating (cellular packet modem, microwave link, something...)
Don November 01, 2011 at 02:36 PM
There might be warming stations in schools or other town owned facilities. Or there should be. Which brings up the terrible reality that this winter unless the economy picks up, I suspect many people might not be able to afford heat.
Don November 01, 2011 at 02:41 PM
What are people supposed to do if temps drop well below freezing and their furnace circulator doesn't work? Drain their entire system of water, so their pipes don't break? I guess we would need a generator and pump to do that. It would be good if the towns had crews who were in a position to go house to house and help homeowners do that if we have another event like this one. I think that if the temps were just a tiny bit lower we would have ended up with a MAJOR disaster in terms of costs for lots of families who would be dealing with broken pipes, water, etc. Thats such a terrible, costly scenario, its worth setting up a special team to fight it.
anonyomous November 01, 2011 at 02:43 PM
Don - bottom line - our 2 towns here did not step up to the plate on Sat, Sun, Mon - it is now Tuesday.
Don November 01, 2011 at 03:53 PM
Nobody expected this, I've never seen this kind of thing happen before. But now that we have seen it we have to assume its going to happen more and prepare for it. Lets also be thankful we're not farmers. Storms like these are major, life changing disasters for our food producers.
Bill November 01, 2011 at 05:03 PM
A special crew? In Caldwell we don't even have a chipper for all the branches from the trees we are not allowed to cut down. I have sink hole by a sewer in front of my house since May, still have never seen a crew tend to that! Remember to vote next Tuesday
Phyllisophize59 November 01, 2011 at 05:10 PM
I bought sterno cans used for heating food at Foodtown and put them in my parent's fake fireplace. I am going to take them for a ride in my car today to warm them up. "Thankfully" I am one of the unemployed and can keep an eye on them during the day. They are quite feeble and do no know how to light the gas range with a lighter. I also have to constantly make sure they don't let the water boil down too low on the stove for fear the pot will catch fire. I called PSE&G and got nowhere. My main concern for them is at night time. I have a friend who can loan us a kerosene heater, but no kerosene. At wits end here!
Alexis November 01, 2011 at 05:22 PM
Really? anonyomous? My neighbor is a councilman and he was out there all day on Sunday helping although he had no power and his family was experiencing the same issue...Don is right when he said no one was expecting this. I agree, we have to be better prepared for next time and hopefully as a community we will be. This includes the complainers too! Do something about it! Don't keep expecting others who already give so much time already to bail everyone out...
Phyllisophize59 November 01, 2011 at 05:58 PM
My parents are 85 and 87. My father was a Marine on Iwo Jima and my mother was a school teacher plus Girl Scout Leader. They lived through the 1st depression and are doing the best they can. My mother's hands are so freezing, she can hardly hold onto her cane. My father has a pace maker and seizures. He is staying in bed all day to keep warm. My mother is also recently home from the hospital. What would you have them do, Alexis?
anonyomous November 01, 2011 at 06:00 PM
Really Alexis?? I helped my neighbors also just like your "councilman" did - I am just expressing that more public facilities (that were able to) should have opened their doors for an hour of heat and something hot to drink. That's it!
Shelley Emling November 01, 2011 at 06:10 PM
Do your parents live in Montclair or which town? I will try to help.
bill November 01, 2011 at 06:19 PM
my family applied for a tree permit to take down an old tree after irene. the tree cutters came to our house before the storm but the town still didnt have the permit ready so they couldnt take the tree down. needless to say that tree went through one of our car windshields and took down our fence. after work yesterday i went to my still powerless house to find the tree permit hand delivered no postage dated 10/29.
Don November 01, 2011 at 06:23 PM
Having a mutual aid network would be good. People could contribute their skills to helping each other get through emergencies.
Don November 01, 2011 at 06:28 PM
Its times like these that we should look at when we decide how to structure things like utilities. Cutbacks have led to it taking so long to restore power. And all things considered, this was not a major emergency. We need to put some of the slack back into the system to avoid crises. Perhaps.. But how?
Phyllisophize59 November 01, 2011 at 11:11 PM
Thank God the power came back on a little while ago! I hauled my parents out of the house ( wasn't easy! Took my mother 3 hours to prepare to leave). Warmed them up in the car as I showed them all the downed trees. Got them coffee & sandwhiches then drove them home and hauled them back in. Got all the candles and sterno cans lit. Tucked them in for a nap and SURPRISE the lights came on! YEEEEHAAAA!
Phyllisophize59 November 01, 2011 at 11:40 PM
Thank you, Shelley, for your concern and offer to help!
Shelley Emling November 01, 2011 at 11:54 PM
Wow.. am just glad the power came on. It's really scary to hear the stories about the older people on their own.. there are warming centers but someone has to get them there.
Don November 01, 2011 at 11:56 PM
Oh no, that's terrible.
Don November 02, 2011 at 12:04 AM
Gas/diesel generators, or do you mean inverters.. (which convert a battery 12v to 115 v AC)
Don November 02, 2011 at 12:19 AM
Simply all staying in one room keeps people warmer. And its safe. If you all still dont have heat bring them over your house and stay in the same room. Close doors to rooms that aren't used. Or better yet, go to a shelter. LOTS of people get killed every year by doing things like heating with sterno or kerosene.
Don November 02, 2011 at 12:30 AM
Heating with an open flame isn't just inefficient. It creates toxic fumes. Even in a real fireplace, using sterno wouldnt be hot enough to heat up the flue adequately so it would not be safe. The fumes could asphyxiate them. Any flame consumes air. A real fireplace is safe if its used properly. If you use a gas stove, use it to heat as large cast iron pot of water as you can find to just below boiling, then turn it down almost to the point it goes out. UNDER NO NO NO CONDITIONS SHOULD YOU USE TEFLON COOKWARE. Use cast iron if you have it, if not, stainless steel. Dont use aluminum. Make sure the water doesn't boil especially boil away. Boiling water isn't good because the water vapor will condense on cold walls and cause mold. DONT USE TEFLON COOKWARE IN A CLOSED ROOM, EVER Simply all staying in one room keeps people warmer. And its safe. If you all still dont have heat bring them over your house and stay in the same room. Close doors to rooms that aren't used. Or better yet, go to a shelter. LOTS of people get killed every year by doing stupid things to stay warm out of desperation.
Don November 02, 2011 at 12:32 AM
Gloves that have the fingers cut out keep your hands warm and let you do almost anything too.
Don November 02, 2011 at 12:59 AM
You're lucky you didn't kill them. STERNO OR CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING FROM A BROKEN HEATER CAN CAUSE BOTH NUMB EXTREMITIES AND SEIZURES.. Have their heater checked.. is it safe?
Phyllisophize59 November 02, 2011 at 01:35 AM
I think that the cold affects the elderly more than other people. My mother took her body temperature and it was 94*. Who knows what would have happened if this had lasted longer. My parents always are cold even in the summer. Must have something to do with blood circulation. You should always look out for the elderly when its cold. They are the first to succumb to the elements.
Don November 02, 2011 at 02:42 AM
Phyllisophize59, please have your parents heater checked for carbon monoxide. PSE&G can do it. The symptoms you describe, seizures, peripheral neuropathy, can be caused by CO. Older people are at increased risk for CO poisoning because they often don't have enough money to fix things like broken heaters. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?term=carbon+monoxide+neuropathy http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?term=carbon+monoxide+seizure
Don November 02, 2011 at 02:59 AM
Bill, have you complained about the sinkhole? How big is it? Maybe you need to complain as a group with your neighbors. Sinkholes seriously injure people all the time.
Don November 02, 2011 at 03:00 AM
Phyllisophize59, are you pulling our legs, or did this really happen?
Llaura Rubin November 02, 2011 at 03:37 AM
Horror of Horrors, I finally have my internet, TV, and land-line back after four days without....I would have posted MORE pix if it weren't for that. We are spoiled, aren't we?


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