A Week Later, Residents Without Power Get Creative
Some residents still without power a week after Irene.
In the last remaining area of Millburn Township without power, residents in the Fairfield neighborhood in Short Hills are getting creative.
Since one side the street has power and the other side does not, several residents have run hundreds of feet of extension cords across the street to plug in and get what little power they can.
At the Barach home, after 30 hours without power, they were able to plug their refrigerator up to the outlet of their neighbor’s house across the street, hoping not to lose all of the food in it.
“Our neighbors are in Florida and they called and asked us how we were doing and if we’d eaten or taken a shower,” said Laraine Barach, who has repeatedly called JCP& to no avail since losing power a week ago. “God bless our neighbors for letting us run the tap in to their power.”
It’s been a long week and nerves are getting frayed, she said.
“We fight over stupid things are very irritable,” she said. “We are camping out, used the grill to cook (by daylight only)…. A few times neighbors shared food with us because they had power. Our neighbors have been helpful. We wish we could help our friends, but we have no way.”
Because they have an extension cord running into their home, they can only leave the house one at a time, otherwise it could not be secured, she said.
None of the other appliances are usable, and like others in the same situation, the Barachs have found themselves making lots of runs to the store for batteries and non-perishables.
They found their old pushbutton phone that doesn’t require electricity and plugged it directly into the phone line. They have been charging their cell phones in their cars and charging her iPad, so they could get information online, at various neighbors’ house. They’ve been constantly changing the ‘D’ batteries out of their vintage 1980s transistor radio to keep up with the news.
If they didn’t have pets in the house, they might have considered staying at a hotel.
“We are getting better at this after a week,” Laraine said. “But last week it was Swiss Family Robinson, Short Hills style.”
This is not the first time the area of Fairfield has lost power, she said.
“We lost power before Memorial Day, too, and at that time, our downstairs freezer was a total loss,” she said.
“I have personally spoken to someone in Ohio who kept telling me it was a (different one) that was down,” Laraine Barach said. “They didn’t even know about us.”
A 100-foot-tall tree fell on the wires in a backyard. The tree has been cut away and is gone now, but the wires are left hanging low and the yard is cordoned off with caution tape.
“If you didn’t know what you were looking for, you’d never find it,” said Barach’s husband, Steven. “Two guys from Texas came by yesterday and said that it would be a day or two, that it was complicated.”
She said a few years ago there was a fire on the power pole in the woods behind their house and the power company fixed it at the time but did not replace it and did not come back for service since.
“We hired someone to cut back the trees from the lines last year,” she said. “We haven’t seen them out here. They have neglected this area.”
When the Barachs saw dozens of JCP&L trucks at the Livingston Mall on Saturday, they were unnerved because there was still no one working on their downed wires and they were still running an extension cord across the street.
“Why aren’t they out here helping us?” Laraine Barach said.
The police and Mayor Sandy Haimoff, on the other hand, have been trying to intervene with the power company but it is still slow going.
“The police and the mayor have been great through all this,” she said.