Edited at 10:56 a.m. See addendum below.
As post-hurricane Millburn endures a fourth day of spotty electricity and contaminated water or none at all, some residents are frustrated and filled with questions.
They fill the comment sections of this Patch site: Where are the work crews from Jersey Central Power and Light? When is the water coming back? When will down trees be cleared?
Basically, when will it be normal again?
Town officials have been telling residents that they too are at the mercy of the utility companies, particularly JCP&L, and assuring them that they are doing everything possible to alleviate the mess left by Hurricane Irene.
"I can totally understand people's patience getting frayed," Mayor Sandy Haimoff said. "We are all in same boat. The only way to get through this is to row together."
"Their frustration is our frustration," said Tim Gordon, township business administrator.
Haimoff said their relations with New Jersey American Water have been relatively good. NJAW told towns officials that hopefully water could be restored as soon as Friday.
However, the town's dealings with JCP&L have been difficult, Haimoff said.
"We have requested at the outset of the storm for them to give us locations where they have taken care of power and trees," Gordon said. "They are not forthcoming with the information. We have not been able to get information."
Gordon explained JCP&L needs to de-energize wires that have become tangled up with tree limbs and then the town can move in and clear the debris. Unfortunately, he said, JCP&L has not given them information on where they have been through for repairs and where down trees are located.
As an example, Gordon said a dead end street in town had a tree with down wires blocking the way. The town kept on calling JCP&L to take care of it, but JCP&L never informed Millburn when they restored power in the area.
With the tree still an obstacle, residents took matters into their own hands and started cutting it up, Gordon said.
"It made us look bad," Gordon said.
Haimoff said the town has made numerous phone calls to JCP&L and even Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. tried to reach out to them on their behalf. The town also sent a strongly-worded letter to the utility company, she said.
Haimoff said the town has been lobbying its state representatives to put pressure on the utility companies.
Meanwhile, Haimoff said, the town has been airing out as much information as possible in a timely manner either via robo calls or press releases through Lt. Peter Eakley, spokesman for the Millburn Police Department and the Millburn Office of Emergency Management. Those press releases are also published on the town website.
Haimoff said she has also been touring South Mountain and other areas.
Andrew Fingerman, a resident on Greenwood Drive in South Mountain, wrote in an email:
"I personally walked the South Mountain neighborhood today (Wednesday) and spoke to dozens of homeowners who estimate home damages and lost property between $30,000 and $100,000 each...house after house with huge piles of debris and their lost personal belongings getting carted away in dump trucks. The weight of the loss and financial hardship is both staggering and heartbreaking. It is critically important to us that we see more action from our local officials to demonstrate they understand the severity of our losses and the impact on our lives. Going forward, we will demand clear answers about why this happened and what will be done to prevent it in the future."
Mark Schulman, a resident in the South Mountian area, said he has not heard from the town at all except through robo calls. He and his family had called the fire department earlier this week so they could pump out eight feet of water from the basement of their Ridgewood Road home. Wedding presents, toys, thousands of CDs, and food were ruined in the deluge.
But the fire department did not call back until Wednesday after Schulman had the basement pumped himself.
"I am frustrated with it all," he said.
But he and his wife Sarah said they understood the town and everybody else were overwhelmed.
"I can't blame anybody in particular. I guess we expected a quicker response," he said.
Berylin Bosselman, who lives on Greenwood in the South Mountain area, said she saw a JCP&L van Wednesday morning and thought the man would get out of the vehicle and start repairs. He didn't, leaving her upset.
It was just another frustrating experience in a so far frustrating week for her and her family, she said.
"We don't know anything. We have no information," she said about when power and water will be restored.
They had to dump items with sentimental value as well because their basement flooded, she said.
Bosselman said she thought the area was not supposed to flood again after walls were installed to prevent the type of flooding that happened after Hurricane Floyd.
"It (the walls) was obviously not high enough," she said.
Millburn/Short Hills Patch did reach out to JCP&L before the article was published, but never got a reply back.