Ridge Road Power Restoration Begins, Schools' Fate Unknown
Damage to Ridge Road was from a burning wire above ground, not below, as originally thought
Orange & Rockland crews from outside Columbus, Ohio were on Ridge Rd. in Mahwah Friday afternoon repairing downed wires that restored power to about 3,000 condo residents on the south side of Macarthur Blvd. According to Underground Line Chief Al Lowther, the power outage in the area was due to downed power lines, not a burning underground transmission line, as previously thought.
“In my estimation, though there are underground lines that run along this road, it looks like a wire fell and danced around on the road, and that’s what burned it up, not an underground line,” the chief said.
Lowther and a crew of 30 contracted utility workers were fixing the downed lines near the burned road Friday afternoon. Lowther said the process is still labor-intensive, but more common than the underground issue O&R originally thought existed at the site. Lowther said the circuits that control the north side of Macarthur Blvd, which include condo units, four township schools, and the Mahwah Public Library, are likely separate from those that control power on this side of the road.
However, Mayor Bill Laforet, who said he was in touch with O&R throughout the day Friday and was on Ridge Road with crews, said the utility is now moving on to other parts of the township. The crew who was working on Ridge Road moved to Darlington Ave. Friday night. And, “O&R is currently calculating whether or not they can get power to the schools and the other side of Ridge Road using the circuits worked on today," he said.
“We are starting to see progress,” Laforet said. “And, we know it's frustrating. These are unprecedented conditions in Mahwah. And, we need to keep pushing [the utility] until every home is back online.”
For residents this weekend, one of the most pressing power restoration questions in the area is whether or not kids will be in school on Monday.
“We are hoping to open all schools on Monday,” Board of Education President Tricia Shada said Friday evening. “If the schools cannot be opened, a decision will be made by 3 p.m. on Sunday and parents will be contacted by the one call now system.”
Once schools reopen, the district announced all schools will operate on a full-day schedule for the entire week.
While Lowther said he wasn’t sure when power would be restored to the schools, he did say O&R crews are working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and will be working this weekend.
As of 9:30 p.m. Friday, O&R was reporting 5,162 customers in Mahwah still without power.