Update, 7:59 a.m., Oct. 30: In the light of day, many people are assessing storm damage and still have no power. PSE&G is pleading for patience.
In a series of tweets Tuesday morning, the power company explained the severity of the situation post-Sandy:
"More than 1.2 million customers w/o power, making it the largest storm in PSE&G history."
"Major damage to trees, wiring and poles means lengthy restoration. Crews may need to spend hours at one location to get the lights on."
"We restore power to the largest numbers of customers first; also hospitals, police and fire stations. Outage info at http://bit.ly/9PDNFF"
"Assume downed wires are live and dangerous. Do not touch. Call reports of damage to PSE&G at 800-436-7734."
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The following was released by PSE&G Monday evening (8:43 p.m.).
PSE&G is reporting 36,000 outages as the winds have picked up dramatically due to the approach of Hurricane Sandy.
The number of utility workers and contractors who will be restoring service once the strong winds subside is now at 1,550 - 950 of them from outside NJ to assist PSE&G's own contingent of 600 linemen.
PSE&G has also secured 526 tree contractors to clear damaged trees and limbs from power lines. Crews have been arriving from Texas, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Georgia and New Jersey, as well as Canada.
PSE&G urges customers to prepare for the possibility of lengthy outages—perhaps seven days or more—due to the enormity of Hurricane Sandy, which forecasters predict may become the worst storm to hit the Northeast in 100 years. It may take until Wednesday until a full assessment of the storm's damage can be made and the utility can more accurately predict when full restoration can be made.
PSE&G will be ready to respond to outages as soon as the strong winds subside and it is safe to work in bucket trucks and other equipment. Flooding and downed trees also can make it hard for crews to get to damage locations. We work closely with towns and counties to clear roads so that we can respond.
Many of the outages are caused by falling trees and limbs, which bring down power lines. Downed wires should always be considered "live."
STAY AWAY FROM ALL DOWNED LINES. Do not approach or drive over a downed line and do not touch anything that it might be in contact with. To report a downed wire and other visible equipment damage, call 1-800-436-PSEG and tell PSE&G the nearest cross street.
To report a power outage, call PSE&G's Customer Service line: 1-800-436-PSEG.
In addition to widespread electric outages, PSE&G expects the heavy rain and predicted storm surge to result in gas outages. Water could enter the utility's gas distribution system, as well as flood customers' basements and gas appliances. Customers are reminded to call PSE&G to report gas odors, and contact their local fire department and municipal construction office to receive assistance in pumping the water out of their basements.
Customers with wells are advised to have a supply of bottled drinking water on hand, and should fill the bathtub with water for sanitary purposes.
Crews work around the clock to repair equipment and restore power. The utility's call center also will be fully staffed on a 24-hour basis to handle calls from customers. Other employees will assist with assessing storm damage, keeping the public away from any downed power lines and other functions that support restoration efforts.
Electric crews work to restore power to the largest numbers of customers first, taking into account "priority" customers, such as hospitals, police stations, fire stations, water and sewer facilities, communications facilities (TV, radio, and telephone), and customers on life-sustaining medical equipment. At the same time, the utility restores power to homes and businesses, starting with the circuits serving the largest number of customers.
Customers with a handheld device, or who are at an alternate location with power, can also report power outages and view the status of their outage by logging in to My Account at pseg.com. General outage activity throughout our service territory is available online at www.pseg.com/outagecenter and updates are posted on pseg.com during severe weather.
PSE&G has activated its Twitter page to keep the public informed about our restoration progress. Sign up as a follower at http://twitter.com/psegdelivers to monitor restoration progress.