Fair Lawn officials are preparing for the possibility that a winter storm forecast to hit North Jersey Wednesday could quash some of the power restoration gains made in the past week.
The borough opened its emergency operations center at noon Wednesday to handle the anticipated influx of calls from residents reporting downed trees and wires in town. The EOC will remain open for at least the next 24 hours, but could be open longer if necessary, emergency management coordinator Ira Marks said.
The National Weather Service predicts the impending storm, dubbed Athena by The Weather Channel, will reach North Jersey in the early afternoon and bring a combination of rain and four inches of snow, with steady 20 mile per hour winds through the evening, gusting as high as 46 miles per hour. A wind advisory and a winter weather advisory are in effect until 4 a.m. Thursday and 6 a.m. Thursday, respectively.
Both Marks and assistant borough manager Jim Van Kruiningen said PSEG expressed concern that Athena's winds could disrupt recent power gains because the electrical system remains fragile.
"They made good repairs, but the thing is, they made repairs quickly to get things up and running," Marks said. "If they did everything permanent to withstand all the wind again, a lot more people would be without power. So their thing was to get as much power to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible."
Borough manager Tom Metzler held a pre-storm meeting Wednesday morning to delegate preparatory responsibilities for various borough departments.
Marks said the borough's department of public works has been working to clear as much debris out of the roadways before the storm hits, and the shade tree department is attempting to clear any remaining downed trees.
He said he was hopeful that the power system would hold together during the storm because winds aren't expected to reach 50 miles per hour this time.
PSEG's most recent power restoration estimates have Fair Lawn at 95 percent restored, with all customers expected back on the grid by midnight Friday.
Residents who do experience power or storm-related issues as a result of Wednesday's storm can reach the EOC at 201-794-5343. For emergencies, dial 911.