20 Aug 2014
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Nor'easter Raises Concerns for South Brunswick OEM

Heavy snow and a high wind advisory for Middlesex County Wednesday into Thursday could lead to more power outages for South Brunswick.

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With thousands of South Brunswick residents still without power, the arrival of a nor'easter on Wednesday raises new concerns for an area still reeling from Hurricane Sandy.

"We still have a number of people without power," said South Brunswick Police spokesman Sgt. Jim Ryan. "Kendall Park still has more than a dozen streets without power. There's no power in the Davidsons Mill Road-Deans area, and Fresh Ponds Road. There are other small sections here and there without power, so we're just trying to hold our own right now."

According to the National Weather Service, Middlesex County is under a High Wind Watch from Wednesday morning until Thursday morning, with winds expected to be between 20 to 30 mph in some areas, and gusts up to 40 mph with a possibility for 60 mph wind. 

The National Weather Service is calling for the possibility of one to four inches of snow developing this morning into the afternoon, when the precipitation will fall more heavily before changing into rain tonight.

A high wind warning is in effect from 6 a.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday. Winds are expected from the north between 30-40 mph with gusts up to 65 mph.

"This is a particularly dangerous situation," the service said, "especially for the areas that were hardest hit by the storm last week."

The strongest winds are expected Wednesday afternoon into evening, with the highest winds at the coast.

According to the weather alert, "Structures and trees weakened by the storm last week may be further damaged by another round of high winds. This can result in renewed power outages, particularly in areas where the electrical system remains in a weakened state. Debris from last week's storm could become a hazard during this new storm."

The forecast also calls for one to four inches of snow as a winter weather advisory has been issued by the NWS. THis raises increased concerns for residents still without power.

"We have daily briefings at 10 a.m. with PSE&G, (Township Manager Bernard Hvozdovic) and (OEM Director and Police Chief) Ray Hayducka and they tell us their plan is flxeible," Sgt. Ryan said. "If there are more outages in one area than they think, then they will stay and try to restore as many people as quickly as possible. We had a large part of Dayton restored yesterday and have more than a dozen trucks working on Culver Road."

The overnight shelter at the South Brunswick Senior Center was shut down yesterday as the residents staying there returned to their homes, however Sgt. Ryan said the shelter can be reopened at a moment's notice should the need arise. With many areas still freshly repaired, the concern remains that the high winds from the nor'easter could bring down already weakened power lines.

"One of our concerns is the structures that were just repaired and whether this storm will impact the viability of those services that have just been restored," Sgt. Ryan said. 

Residents are advised to prepare for the possibility of new power outages by filling their gas tanks ahead of time and making sure they have provisions for the coming days.

As of today, there are 3,900 outside personnel to bolster the 700 PSE&G workers trying to turn the power back on since Hurricane Sandy hit last week. PSE&G president and chief operating officer Ralph LaRossa said the company called in linemen and workers from other states who flooded into New Jersey to help restore power.

On Tuesday, LaRossa spoke on a media conference call and trumpeted that the company obtained the services of another 600 linemen, coming in from Pennsylvania, just last night.

"We got them to work quickly," LaRossa said.

LaRossa reported that 281,000 state residents are still without power, but that over 84 percent of customers have had their electricity restored. 

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