Six Days Without Power in South Orange

The struggles of one family that's still in the dark.

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.

Chuck Mahoney November 04, 2011 at 04:21 PM
We are still without power on Irving Ave as well.
Ian Miller November 04, 2011 at 04:43 PM
We are also still with out power in Tuxedo Park. Mom's insulin is going bad and will need to be replaced. I have been out of business for a week. Food is going bad. This has not been good. PSE & G keeps promising Tomorrow by 11:59 PM They said that Monday, Wednesday and now Friday. Thomas Edison… Where are you? Thank goodness for the efforts of one of the committee members of University Engagement, The day of charity, part of SOS will still have the participation of our committee as well as an after party at an unannounced local restaurant
Victor Alcindor November 04, 2011 at 05:24 PM
I am a resident of Tuxedo Park and have been without power since Saturday (1:30)...what I've learned is that I have little to no confidence in PSE&G as they are too reactive and take no steps to prevent disasters.
Alvaro Muir November 04, 2011 at 05:28 PM
Another Tuxedo Parker here... both PSEG and our local government have poor communication policies. Between AM radio, Twitter,etc they should've been able to say more sooner. It seems there are some down lines behind Varsity. I saw the PSE&G guys scratching their heads looking at it yesterday. I guess they didn't bother to try to work on it until yesterday.
Joaquin Labour November 04, 2011 at 05:42 PM
Let's help them to get alerted---It seems like PSE&G doesn’t have a way to know who has the power restored and who doesn’t. Let’s help them; If you are at home now, hang a red t-shirt of your front door as indication of that YOU HAVE NO POWER YET. This will alert them of how many of us are still without power. It seems like some time they think they fix the problem by complete when in reality they have not.
msh November 04, 2011 at 07:30 PM
My friend on Brookwood Road is still without power with elderly parents (housebound). Where is the town in all of this? Shame, shame pse&g!
Alvaro Muir November 04, 2011 at 09:11 PM
Looks like my power just came back on, in Tuxedo Park. If I can help anyone in South Orange, pls tweet me @alvaromuir
Carlos Ulises Decena November 04, 2011 at 09:17 PM
For PSE&G, it's all about appearing to be doing the right thing. They forget there is a human dimension to this--and not always the dimension of people who will expire if their respirators are cut. They have played and changed my deadline several times, called me to lead me to believe my power has been restored when it actually hasn't been, and made it virtually impossible to talk back to them. They claim 99% when we all know that is not true. The question is, how will we respond to this in a preventive way, as citizens who should look out for each others. They clearly do not care. But South Orange Village has never seemed to me as passive and insensitive as it has during this week. I cannot believe what one firefighter told me when I called: "You are cold? Take the wife and kids to Disney," as if I live on a trust fund. I tried to explain that, like many people in this town (those of us who own homes and pay for HIS salary while he tells us to go to Disney) I actually have a job to perform and a family to feed and try to keep warm. And where in the world are our elected officials? Where is the Village President in all of this? Thank you, government of South Orange, for reminding me of what governmental ineptitude, passivity, and inaction can do. What a lesson!
Theo Lubke November 05, 2011 at 02:10 AM
We got out power restored around 5:30 this evening. Thank you South Orange Patch and Alex Torpey! Theo Lubke
Chuck Mahoney November 05, 2011 at 03:45 AM
Thanking Torpey for what exactly?
Chuck Mahoney November 05, 2011 at 03:48 AM
Crews from Mississippi Power came down our street today around 4pm. They were the first utility crews we have seen all week. They were surprised by the magnitude of the outage on Irving Ave, and told us it would take days to fix. They left around 5pm, not having started any repairs.
Colin Strasser November 05, 2011 at 11:01 AM
We still have no power on the north side of Hartford Road. A PSE&G crew came around 11 last night and left after an hour. They told me they couldn't do any repairs because Central hadn't dispatched tree crews to remove the branches from the wires. They had no idea if anyone would be out over the weekend. So it's not just us residents who are frustrated, it's the workers too.
Nick Vespa November 05, 2011 at 12:26 PM
Be prepared for the next power outage with an emergency transfer switch for your portable generator. Safely control emergency loads. See how they work at our website and let us install one for you. www.EPandL.com
Mindy Brown November 05, 2011 at 03:22 PM
I asked the PSE&G and Georgia power guys in Montrose whether they do any "preventive" tree cutting around wires, and whether this wouldn't be less expensive than all the overtime. They said they'd do it in a minute if their companies would allow it, but they don't. It would cost $6000 per tree to trim the large ones in our neighbor's yard that impinge on our house.


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