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Senator O’Scanlon discusses the storm and JCP&L’s response

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By Senator Declan O’Scanlon

Senator Declan O’Scanlon

For those who didn’t lose power, or see the fury of Monday night’s storm, be thankful. Your lives went on like a normal summer day with a thunderstorm in the background.  For those who were in the micro-bursts…it was the scariest thing many have seen since Sandy..and more than many of us have ever seen. It lasted 20 minutes through the area…but left more immediate wind devastation than Sandy. Sandy spent hours piling water into our Bayshore and bays and oceanfront. This unnamed…moment…tore down trees and utility poles and the wires near, or attached to, them. And it was block-by-block, neighborhood by neighborhood.  Which made it even harder on those without power. Many neighbors had no inconvenience at all.  I can say now, it was a miracle no one was seriously injured or killed.  For those that didn’t see it, trust me, this isn’t hyperbole.

In the end over 200,000 people had no power. Trees were down. JCP&L on the scramble, tested again.  By Thursday night, all but just over 200 customers in Monmouth County had their power restored.

photo courtesy of JCP&L

I spent several hours on Tuesday in the JCPL command center in Holmdel – dealing with local officials pinpointing areas of most immediate concern . We met again on Thursday to begin the assessment process of the response to make things better next time.  There is plenty of room for improvement.  But there was also significant, almost dramatic improvement over the Sandy response. The local area liaisons were fully engaged and the corporate leaders of the company were in touch with me and local officials. Our local input was actively included in response priorities. My constituents weren’t irritants, we together were welcomed partners in response priorities. Big steps forward.

All that said, there’s a long way to go. More active communication between the company and individual customers through a a high quality app or some other creative online communication is way overdue. More timely and more granular estimated time-to-restoration projections must be possible, and must be delivered. We need a resiliency project and investment plan that demonstrates the company cares about quality, dependable service as much as it does profits.

photo courtesy of JCP&L

Today I was heartened to see that there is a sincere interest and effort on behalf of the company to invest in the network and implement the improvements we all need to see. I know people are frustrated, trust me, as exhausted as I am after this last few days, so am I. But I promise you, as the Senator from the area hit hardest by these two storms, I won’t relent until we get the communication and network resiliency improvements that we need, and that we deserve.

Senator Declan O’Scanlon represents the 13th legislative district, northern Monmouth County and the Two Rivers area, in the State Senate.

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