While life in Princeton has been getting back to normal for many, pockets of residents have been without power since Hurricane Sandy hit and others were plunged into darkness following last week’s nor’easter.
And while people understand the unprecedented storm damage that has left utility workers scrambling, they express concern about the lack of communication from PSE&G.
“Eleven days and counting and still no electricity on the lower half of Wheatsheaf Lane,” resident Diane Landis wrote in an email. “We have a pole with a transformer dangling over the street and 31 residents still without power. Many of whom are still in their homes.
“Wheatsheafers have called PSEG more than 70 times with different responses each time. We have chased trucks, begged, emailed, called to no avail,” Landis wrote.
Susan Sugarman and her 12-year-old twins live in the 100 block of Parkside Drive. Like many on the street, they lost power during Hurricane Sandy then regained it four days later. During the nor’easter, they lost it again.
“It was frustrating,” said Sugarman, a professor of psychology at Princeton University. “I think the hardest part was wondering if we were really being heard by PSE&G. And with no signs of trucks and PSE&G being more and more scarse in the area in the last few days, it made me wonder if it was ever going to happen.”
PSE&G brought in 4,500 linemen to help with power restoration across the state and by the end of the week, PSE&G President and Chief Operating Officer Ralph LaRossa said 98 percent of affected customers were back online.
PSE&G promised Princeton officials that power would be restored to all residents by Saturday. Many homes came online over the weekend, with reports of power being restored on Cherry Hill Road, Brookstone Drive, Fairway Drive and Wendover Drive.
But power was still out on Parkside Drive on Sunday.
Sugarman’s neighbor, Renee Fitts ran a half marathon on Saturday, then donned a headlamp as she cleaned out her refrigerator for the second time in less than 10 days. From her back porch, she pointed to where a tree had fell during the nor'easter and knocked out four poles, multiple wires and a transformer, then crashed down onto Quaker Road, blocking the road until crews removed the tree on Friday.
Fitts and her husband, Princeton University Professor David Botstein, stayed in their house during the first outage, but when the lost power a second time, the couple checked into a hotel.
Fitts said she called PSE&G countless times.
“When we talked to them (on Saturday), the customer service representative could not give us any estimate of when power would be restored. We expected it to be restored yesterday, but of course it was not.
“We asked to speak with a supervisor, were put on hold and our call was dropped.”
Fitts said their experience is nothing compared to those whose lives were devastated, but that the feeling was more of being left behind.
“As everyone else’s life is turned on, we feel like our faces are pressed against the window,” Fitts said.
Neighbors offered food, hot showers, even beds.
“People have been very supportive with meals and dinner and so on,” Sugarman said. “But with something like this, you just want to be in your own place.”
When Princeton University classes began again, Sugarman could escape to her office for work- and heat.
“At night, we slept under lots of blankets,” Sugarman said. “We don’t have a gas stove so we either ate cold stuff or threw hot water from the tap over it. It's just that the temperature got down to 52 degrees, which is cold.”
On Sunday afternoon, Sugarman, Fitts and Botstein got their power back on Parkside Drive.
On Twitter late Sunday, the utility reported that all but 24 customers affected by Hurricane Sandy had been restored and that 336 customer remained without power from the nor'easter.
It’s not clear how many Princeton residents are still without power. On Sunday night, PSE&G’s outage map showed all power had been restored in Princeton Borough, but 1-500 customers still without power in Princeton Township.
Princeton Township officials issued a statement on Thursday saying that they are trying to get updated information about extended power outages in town.
"To date, PSE&G has not provided us with this information because they stated that due to the significant amount of hurricane damage throughout the state, they do not have the resources to dedicate to provide this information to each and every town.
"PSE&G is working hard, however, we also know that our residents that do not have power are very upset, cold and frustrated - we will continue to push."