Chester Man Calls Out Officials Post Storm

Dangerous conditions and accountability concerns prompt a letter to the mayor of Chester Township.

Editor's note: The following is a letter to Bill Cogger, the Mayor of Chester Township the author requested be shared as a letter to the editor.

Attached to this post is a photograph taken outside my home, the intersection of Rt. 24 and Twinbrooks Trail on Nov. 8, some 10 days after the storm. What I witnessed this morning is something I never thought I see in America, much less in Chester, NJ, school children stepping over downed power lines to get on a school bus.  

Say what you want about daily contact with JCP&L, conference calls with the Governor, and posting to Twitter, the fact that our Chester school children had to carefully step over downed power lines to catch the bus says more about the response to this storm that all of the statistics of households restored. This is unconscionable on the part of JCP&L, that a full 10 days after the storm and there are still power lines down on the road. Not just any road, but Rt 24 for crying out loud.  

JCP&L's response to the storm is equally troubling. Governor Christie's policy of making them post their progress to the Internet is good in concept but what good does it do when the numbers and dates have no relationship to reality.   On Friday, Nov. 2, JCP&L's PDF file showed approximately 2,000 homes to be restored over the Nov. 2 to Nov. 4. in Chester Township. On the Nov. 4, I had the occasion to speak with a Chester police officer and he told me that he hadn't seen a truck all weekend. I went back to the web site on Nov. 5 and JCP&L simply moved all the numbers over to the next three days. It took all the way to the Nov. 7 or Nov. 8 before Chester was even addressed and that is a far cry from their original document. 

When the power is down and communication is limited, we would expect that whatever information that JCP&L would post should be remotely close to their real activity. People stuck in cold houses without electricity have to make decisions on whether to seek shelter elsewhere, make contingency plans as well as other personal matters. For JCP&L to post such pure fiction and then hide behind an excuse that it was only an estimate is the height of audacity. 

Look, I am just one household calling JCP&L on a daily basis seeking a solution to this problem. By myself, I can not hold JCP&L accountable for their inaccurate information, their argumentative customer service (using that term loosely) representatives, and their head up their ass priority assignments. But as a government official, you have a responsibility to your constituents to hold them accountable for these transgressions.

First, please take action. Call JCP&L and demand that this situation be cleaned up before someone gets hurt. Second, demand that they put up accurate information and when it doesn't happen, demand that they double back to make sure it gets done. And lastly, there should be a financial penalty extracted for lying, inaction, and lack of professional customer service. If they understand anything, its money. And we should all be demanding fat consumer rebates for this mess. Stating the obvious, this can only be done if all of our elected politicians have the moral courage to call them out on this and hold them accountable.   

We are all watching, do the right thing.


David Tourville

1 Twinbrooks Tr

Chester, NJ  07930

Tina Salvi Farnsworth November 09, 2012 at 03:40 PM
@ Thomas... I was and am prepared. I am not "bitching" about my situation. I am questioning jcp&l's constant moving timeframe. I know I will not have power this weekend like they have said they would. I would like them to get the schools back online so that my children can get back. they want to go back. after your rant, I wonder who is the one that needs to grow up.
Frank LaRocca November 09, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Thomas, Good for you. I am glad you were prepared for the storm. Guess what, my family was prepared too, and so were my relatives and friends and neighbors. It seems though, that the only ones not prepared for this hurricane was the very company that we are now relying on to turn the power back on. However, preparing for two weeks of no power is not acceptable, and not part of the contingency plan. We are not spoon-fed cry babies. We are forced into having JCPL as our utility provider. We did not ask for them, nor do we have a choice. Whining, I don't think so. Think about what you said. There are a number of crews coming in from the midwest, and other states as well to help in the effort. It is much appreciated, but has anyone asked WHY? Why is it that our utility provider, that is supposed to maintain the integrity and the structure of the power grids can't handle a staffing issue? The question is WHY was JCPL not prepared and staffed in anticipation of this storm?
Deb Schuetz November 09, 2012 at 08:00 PM
It is, unquestionably, alarming that children are stepping over wires to get on a school bus! We are all in 100% agreement that this is one of the most frustrating times we have experienced in recent (or even distant) memory. Having lived in NJ most of my life, I do not remember ever having as many (lengthy or otherwise) power outages as we've experienced in recent years. Is it because the population has grown in NJ, but the utility infrastructures have not kept pace with the growing population? Whatever the reason, I think we can all agree that it needs to be addressed, and fixed! With that said, I don't necessarily think that the power companies are to blame....remember they have thousands of "helpers" from out of state, for whom we are all grateful, but those thousands of extra workers have to be coordinated which I'm sure is a massive undertaking and one that just further complicates the recovery. In addition to that, I certainly hope that they're being sent to the areas faced with the most devastation and even more highly populated than our area. The anger expressed by all suffering through the last 11 days could really be a fill-in-the-blank when it comes to naming the electric company...and all of the comments would be the same! I'm hoping we all get to "see the light" again very soon!
Dave Profito November 10, 2012 at 11:31 AM
The crews are from out of state because JCP&L has no in state workforce. They are an Ohio based company, who has chosen short term profits over long term solutions, as most companies do. Where were the tree crews that are supposed to be trimming the trees this summer? Where were the line crews upgrading the infrastructure in the past year? JCP&L needs to be held responsible for these choices, but we, as consumers have no power to do so. We can't change that part of our electric bill. We can change who generates the electricity, but delivery is over the same old infrastructure that is the basic problem. @Thomas, it's good to know that you were prepared for the storm. Congratulations, you were better off than most, including me. But even the best generator is not designed for such long term use. And to be honest, I think the number of portable generators around added to the hysteria about the gasoline situation, causing the long lines, price gouging in the area and the eventual gas rationing system. As I sit in my dark house for the 12th straight day contemplating which generator I will get when I do have the money, I am thankful for the friends, neighbors, and family that have offered us anything we could possibly need during this trying time. And I worry for those who lost so much more than food and lights.


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