New Jersey has seen more long-term power outages during the past 12 months than it has during any other year in recent memory.
First Irene struck, causing millions to lose power throughout the state and, in some areas, electricity was not restored for more than a week.
Just two months later, a rare October snowstorm dropped more than a foot of snow in parts of North Jersey, and several inches in parts of Central Jersey, causing extensive tree damage and power outages lasting longer than a week for thousands.
Then the June derecho struck South Jersey and a series of thunderstorms in Central Jersey knocked out electricity to several townships for several days.
The state has had long-term power outages in the past, said New Jersey Office of Emergency Management spokeswoman Mary Goepfert, “but not as many and not to the extent that we’ve had.”
These outages are not due to weakening infrastructure, but rather because of the intensity, type and frequency of storms that are striking the state.
While the state has plans in its emergency operations guides on how to deal with extended power outages, the recent string has authorities revisiting and making some changes in how to respond to the problems so often, so soon.
For example, the state will be working on developing plans for bringing more generators into storm-damaged areas to temporarily power public safety operations and critical-needs facilities, including major traffic signals.
Following the June derecho, Atlantic County needed portable generators to help operate traffic signals at major intersections and emergency communications equipment after the winds snapped the emergency communications tower in Egg Harbor Township.
Atlantic County Emergency Managment Director Vince Jones said plans have long been in place, but now Atlantic City Electric is evaluating the vulnerable infrastructure and what happens if the power goes out. For example, he said, when traffic signals go dark, police officers are stationed at those intersections to help direct traffic.
“But when you’re talking days of rotating officers through there, the faster you get that light on, the faster you can reassign those officers,” Jones said.
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