Living without power for 13 days can be quite difficult, but Pete Dalle Pazze was prepared long before Hurricane Sandy arrived in New Jersey on Oct. 29.
A few years ago, Dalle Pazze, a resident of Hopewell Township, bought a generator that was capable of powering his entire house. The purchase was influenced by the fact that his home had often lost power for several days at a time.
Although it was challenging to maintain an ample supply of gasoline for the generator, Dalle Pazze said the machine helped him make it through the lengthy power outage.
Power outages, caused by fallen trees and power lines, affected many Hopewell Valley residents in the days following the storm.
Like Dalle Pazze, Hopewell Township mayor Michael Markulec was without power for almost two weeks. Markulec said that most power outages in the township lasted about one week.
Additionally, about 24 homes or garages in the township were struck by falling trees and sustained significant damage. None of the damage was life threatening, Markulec said.
“All of the township was affected. The more rural areas are typically tougher to get power restored to,” Markulec said.
Although the township has closed its emergency management center and shelters, Markulec said there is still a lot of work to be done.
“We have a tremendous clean-up still in terms of all the downed trees,” he said.
Markulec said that the hurricane left behind an estimated 70,000 cubic yards of waste in Hopewell.
The township scheduled a special meeting for November 19 to discuss the best way to handle the brush pickup. The cost to hire an outside party to remove the waste was estimated at $3.5 million, Markulec said. The township is also reviewing the requirements to receive funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
In Hopewell Borough, power was restored relatively quickly to those who experienced outages. Of the borough’s 700 lots, 500 lost power for less than one day, Hopewell Borough Mayor Paul Anzano said.
Power was restored to 150 of those lots by the end of the week, and the final 50 lots experienced longer outages, he said.
Anzano said that although some large trees fell in the borough, few residential properties were hit.
He said that routine maintenance, such as the removal of dying trees and trimming of branches, was beneficial when the storm struck.
In Pennington Borough, most of the power outages lasted anywhere from five to nine days.
Borough Administrator Tim Matheny said that the extent of the damage varied by location. Some areas had downed trees and wires, leading to road closures. Some houses and automobiles in the borough were also damaged in the storm, Matheny said.
As of November 19, Kunkel Park had been closed to the public for about one week due to downed trees and hanging branches, Matheny said.
Pennington resident Rob Radice said that there were a lot of fallen trees and utility poles in the area near his home, and one of his own trees began to uproot during the storm.
Radice’s home was without power for less than 48 hours. Although it was hectic refueling his generator every three hours to power the refrigerator, he was thankful that his family experienced relatively little hardship.
“Certainly a lot of people had it worse than us,” he said.
During the storm, Pennington Borough began using the website nixle.com, which allows residents to sign up for free notifications that can be viewed online and received by email or text message.
Matheny said that about 80 borough residents have already signed up for the service, which is also available to Hopewell Township residents.
The borough also found ways to provide information to those without access to electronic communication. Police officers distributed flyers, which were also posted outside of Pennington Borough Hall.
Despite the ongoing cleanup efforts, daily operations have returned to normal for most of the Hopewell Valley area.
Schools in the Hopewell Valley Regional School District were closed during the week of the storm. Students made up for two of those school days on Nov. 8 and Nov. 9, after the annual NJEA convention was cancelled.
Information about FEMA disaster assistance for those impacted by Hurricane Sandy is available online at disasterassistance.gov or by phone at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).