At the End of a Brutal Week, Paterson Not Yet Back on Its Feet
Friday, November 2, 2012 • 6:34pm
PATERSON, NJ – Slowly and gradually, Paterson continued on the road to normalcy on Friday.
“A small percentage” of city residents remain without power, but among them were several senior citizen buildings, said Mayor Jeffrey Jones. A handful of families were still at the makeshift shelter at International High School, officials said. No one knew for sure when city schools would reopen, or when the gas lines would end.
“We’ve cleared 80 percent of the downed trees,’’ said Public Works Director Christopher Coke. For the most part, the only broken limbs and trucks still hanging around are those entangled in power wires, Coke said. “We’re not authorized to touch those,’’ he said. “They have to wait for” Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G).
“They’re telling us they’ve been here,’’ Jones said of PSE&G crews. “I can’t say I’m seeing them. But I don’t want to beat them up. We appreciate what they’ve been doing.’’
Jones said one of the city’s toughest challenges was getting information to residents who had no power, no cable television and no internet. “We tried every primitive approach possible,’’ the mayor said. “We’re handing out fliers. We’ve got police officers driving around on loudspeakers.’’
Starting Thursday, Paterson Public Schools began providing free meals at Eastside High School for folks still without food or a way of cooking it. Jones said the Paterson Housing Authority had brought meals to several private senior housing complexes. City Council President Anthony Davis said he planned to take pizza and chicken to folks at Triangle Village on Paterson Street on Saturday.
Ten of Paterson’s 54 schools remained without power as of Friday afternoon, officials said. The district was waiting to see how much more power gets restored over the weekend to decide whether to resume classes on Monday, said spokeswoman Terry Corallo. In the meantime, all weekend school events, including the SAT tests, had been canceled, she said.
Several of the schools without power also happen to be polling sites for next week’s elections, Corallo said. Election officials would make a determination on Monday whether any last-minute polling changes would be made, she said.
The city has calculated more than $1.8 million in storm expenses for which it is seeking reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Under federal guidelines, FEMA reimbursed localities for 75 percent of disaster expenses.
The largest cost for Paterson was the $1.4 million spent by the public works department. “Unfortunately, it’s in the worst of times that the DPW is at its best,’’ said Coke.