Morris County Freeholders Share ‘Frustration’ In Storm Recovery

County OEM Coordinating Power Restoration, Tree Removal, Road Clearing, and Public Health and Safety Issues

A scene in Mountain Lakes with trees and powerlines down

MORRIS COUNTY — The following statement is being issued on behalf of the entire Morris County Freeholders by Freeholder Director Deborah Smith:

“At the outset, you should know we share your frustration over what seems to be an inordinate delay in reopening our roads and restoring power to many neighborhoods. What you need to know is that our county Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is actively working with utilities and first responders in all 39 towns to expedite the recovery.

Freeholder Director Deborah Smith

“In a phone conference this morning, including OEM, local police and emergency officials, JCP&L reported that of the 150,000 Morris County customers impacted by the storm on Tuesday, 92,361 remain without power. By this afternoon, JCP&L reported they got that down to 84,622 customers.

“The utility explained Morris County was the third hardest-hit county in the state and said the key to restoring power and clearing roads is the ongoing repair work JCP&L is conducting at multiple substations that were knocked out by Isaias.

“Today, as in previous daily phone conferences, local police and officials expressed frustration with Verizon and JCP&L, especially regarding downed trees, poles, and wires that have isolated entire communities. As this situation unfolds, we want to assure you that our county OEM is in constant contact with all local first responders, who are relaying their priority lists of road closures, water supply interruption, sewer interruption, power outages and potential hazards in every neighborhood in every town.

“OEM has been providing each town in need with additional generators to keep major facilities operating, coordinating the clean-up effort, and enlisting the Morris County Sheriff’s Office to provide equipment and manpower to every town in need of support.

“Many towns have set up “cooling stations” for people in need of water and ice, while emergency officials and the county Human Services Department are keeping in direct contact with every hospital, care facility, and senior complex in our county.

“Due to the COVID pandemic, our Human Services Department already developed a process of checking on our most vulnerable populations. But today our OEM reminded each town to conduct their own welfare-checks on vulnerable citizens who may require emergency services, particularly those without power who may need to relocate to the homes of family and friends.

“Our Morris Area Paratransit System (MAPS) is active and available to vulnerable Morris County residents who may need to relocate. Additionally, anyone in need of assistance is being urged to dial 211. Because police and fire departments are focused on keeping residents safe and resolving dangerous situations, please do not dial 911 unless you face a life-threatening emergency.

“While the power outages and road closures are troubling for many families, all of us in Morris County have successfully pulled through similar situations in the past, including Hurricane Irene, the October 2011 Snowstorm and Superstorm Sandy because we have worked together, remained calm and provided our first responders with the resources necessary to restore our community to normalcy.

“Please rest assured, we will get beyond this crisis.’’

The Morris County Board of Freeholders includes Director Deborah Smith, Deputy Director Stephen Shaw, Doug Cabana, Kathy DeFillippo, John Krickus, Tom Mastrangelo, and Tayfun Selen.