The electricity in Butler is “99 percent” up and running, according to Mayor Robert Alviene. The announcement came a week after Tropical Storm Sandy caused a JCP&L transmission line to fail on Oct. 29, leaving all Butler Electric customers without power for days.
Butler Borough Administrator James Lampmann said during the borough’s council meeting Tuesday night that most of the area, with the exception of a few properties in Smoke Rise in Kinnelon, had been restored.
“We have some house services that have been turned off and are waiting for electricians to come back before we can reconnect,” Lampmann said.
After sitting in on a conference call with the Morris County Office of Emergency Management earlier in the day, Lampmann learned that many towns in the county still have no power and have not been able to start clearing their roads yet.
“If you take a ride north or south, there’s nothing but dark highway for long periods,” he said.
Lampmann heaped praise on the mayor and 26th District Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce, whom he said helped Butler get some priority within JCP&L on Sunday to get the transmission line fixed. JCP&L had previously told the borough it would be a week before electricity would be restored.
“Quite frankly, we were very low priority,” the administrator said. “They got me in touch with some people at JCP&L and, within hours, they came out and checked the line.”
Butler is currently operating on a single line without a functioning backup, but Lampmann said “it is better to be in this condition than to have nothing right now.”
Both Alviene and Lampmann praised the various borough workers, volunteers and external helpers who have provided assistance in the past week. Alviene complimented the police department for its work handling the struggle to get fuel at local gas stations one night.
“I was in line with [the police officers] most of the night to make sure they knew when it would get there,” Alviene said. “We had a few disputes but nothing like other towns.”
The fire department has provided food – sandwiches for lunch and hot meals for dinner – for borough workers every day.
“It’s been tremendous,” Lampmann said. “The guys get to come together, eat and get a half hour to sit down before we go back out.”
The borough also brought in retired workers, temporary help and eight workers from Vineland Municipal Electric Utility in South Jersey.
Lampmann said local businesses have also been pivotal in offering necessary equipment to the borough and transferring fuel to keep generators going.
“Everybody’s pulled together and it’s been a hell of an effort,” Lampmann said. “Eventually we’ll get some sleep.”