On Saturday, an earlier than usual , leaving millions of people without power. In South Orange, 6,000 homes were affected by falling trees and debris that took down power lines and caused havoc in the town. Six days later, 800 homes were still in the dark.
Theo Lubke, a resident of the Montrose section of South Orange, lives with his wife and three kids, aged 10, 8 and 18 months. Their home lost power at approximately 1 p.m. on Saturday when a tree fell on the power lines in their back yard. Six days later, those power lines are still dangling.
“We have been without heat; our food spoiled days ago; we have no telephone service and we are getting by only with the support of friends and family,” wrote Lubke in an e-mail to village officials.
Village officials have been working feverishly since Saturday to try and get the town back online, but there is only so much that the municipality can do. PSE&G is a state-owned entity and thus does not report directly to the village. However, officials are making sure the voices of South Orange are heard.
"Multiple village officials communicate with PSE&G several times a day," South Orange Village President Alex Torpey told Patch. "We have brought in state and county officials to not only help lobby on our behalf, but to make sure that there is some accountability to the information the village is getting. Many areas that we have been told are back online, aren't. Not having accurate information (told to town officials from other entities) is something the village will be following up on to make sure this never happens again."
Reached by phone on Friday, Lubke further discussed the effect this outage has had on his family and his dealings with PSE&G.
“Its chilly, cold and dark at night,” said Lubke, whose kids have had to stay with their grandmother in West Orange. “We had to get a generator from our neighbors just to have heat.”
While Lubke’s immediate next door neighbors are also without power, as well as other roads in the area, parts of the Montrose area were back online by Wednesday. However, that was the last time PSE&G crews have been in the area. Lubke has called once or twice a day since then, being told “by midnight” of each day he called. The latest word he got was that his family would have power “by midnight on Friday.”
“Our biggest concern is that we are falling through the cracks,” said Lubke.
When contacted by Patch, PSE&G officials declined to state where crews have or will be, for fear of the crews’ safety. According to the representative, the crews have been bombarded by resident asking for help. However, a second phone call revealed that a PSE&G crew was supposedly in the Montrose area on Friday morning.
PSE&G claims that . Also for the third straight day, they have claimed that “by midnight,” power will be fully restored for everyone.
For Theo Lubke and others still without power in South Orange, they can only hope that PSE&G follows through this time.