WEST TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has ordered a review of how the state’s utilities handled their response to the two recent winter storms that left thousands without power.
Nearly 76,500 customers were still without power across the state Friday night.
“We’re going to examine what went wrong and whether the improvement to strengthen our grid devised post-Sandy have been implemented,” Murphy said Thursday. “We will look to see if all preparedness measures were taken before last Friday, knowing an event, a major event was coming. My gut tells me they weren’t. And if they’ve not been, this is entirely inexcusable.”
The governor said there were 350,000 outages at the height of the outages. He added that about 17,000 residents were still without power from last week’s nor’easter. On Twitter, Murphy called that “completely unacceptable.”
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., echoed Murphy’s call for an investigation.
“All I have heard from constituents in the hours since I have been home from Washington is how horrible JCP&L’s response has been in parts of New Jersey hardest hit by back-to-back nor’easters. They are without power, without heat, and are justifiably angry. It is absolutely unacceptable,” he said in a statement. “Gov. Murphy is right to have the state Board of Public Utilities look into it. It has to be swift and thorough, and those who have left New Jerseyans hanging high and dry held accountable. New Jerseyans deserve better.”
Jersey Central Power & Light blamed the back-to-back storms hitting close together.
“Our highest priority is getting customers restored who have been out the longest. We announced today that we will have all of those customers restored by 11:30 Saturday night,” the utility told CBS2’s Marc Liverman.
In the meantime, Krissy Kise and her family have grown used to hearing their generator hum. That is, until it gets dark.
“They’re not meant to run 24/7. So we do shut it off at night, and there’s no heat,” she said.
They live on Summer Lane in Columbia in western New Jersey, where they’ve been without power since last Friday’s storm.
“Sweatpants, sweatshirts and down comforters. That’s about it,” Kise said.
Even things like keeping food cold now take a little planning.
“We do have to switch power from freezer to freezer to fridge to make sure that the generator doesn’t get overloaded,” she said.
Kise placed some of the blame on JCP&L.
“We’re self-sufficient here, but it is a little frustrating when you have to call and constantly report the same thing when they tell you your ticket’s been cleared and it’s not,” she said.
David Lejuez, of Springfield, had a candle in his window Friday night – the only sign of life on the block, CBS2’s Meg Baker reported. Power went out around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday during this week’s nor’easter.
“Yesterday, I had firewood going throughout the whole day,” he said. “As you can see, everybody has lost power. My neighbors have left, because of the fact that it got so cold overnight.”
He went from store to store looking for a generator.
“By luck I actually found another Home Depot that had just gotten a delivery,” he said.
Lejuez’s son Ian, a fourth grader, was off from school again Friday.
“We had to use candles, which was pretty boring. It was like living in the 1800s,” Ian said.
It was a similar story in Parsippany, where several roads were closed due to downed power lines and trees.
Baker also checked in with David Hoffman in Rockaway Township. She first met him on Monday, and he’s now been without power since last week’s storm, bearing the cold and keeping warm by his wood-burning stove.
“There’s a pole that is in between the pole in the street and the pole in my house, and it came down as well as the mast on my house,” he said. “So I had the electricians here, and the mast is back on the house, but now JCP&L has to come put the pole in.”
Murphy also said he’s aware of only one fatality in New Jersey from the most recent storm.
A man died after he apparently drove his vehicle around a barricade in Franklin Lakes Thursday and struck a live power line that had been knocked down, sparking a fire that trapped him in the vehicle.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)