“It’s time Governor Christie paid attention to New Jersey’s west coast.”
That's the message of a Gloucester County mayor of a town still struggling to recover from Tuesday's heavy storms hoped to get out at a news conference Sunday.
Greenwich Township Mayor George W. Shivery, Jr. was joined by members of town council and residents who remained without power after six days to demand that Gov. Chris Christie help the township and surrounding communities get the power back. Among those appearing with the mayor were emergency responders, police and firefighters who worked around the clock to help residents.
"I can't thank each and everyone of them enough," said Shivery. "We are Gibbstown strong."
Nearly 280,000 utility customers were without power during the height of the storms, and roughly 9,000 customers still had no service as of late Sunday night, mainly in Gloucester and Camden counties.
Atlantic City Electric admitted that a soggy Saturday slowed restoration efforts in the Greenwich area. Hundreds of customers in Gibbstown, Paulsboro and nearby towns remained in the dark early Sunday evening -- in total nearly 8,000 customers in the county were without power.
Despite the call by the Republican mayor for Christie to act, the governor already seemed to have a timetable in place.
“Based on ACE's commitment this afternoon, we expect outages to be down to 1 percent or fewer of the affected customers by tomorrow morning, and for full restoration shortly thereafter," said Christie. “While significant progress has been made in restoring power to many businesses, households, and critical infrastructure in South Jersey after last week’s storm, there are still too many families who are dealing with outages. I thank these families for their patience and resilience during this period.”
Part of the AC Electric plan included calling in 155 more personnel to tackle outages on Saturday but due to the rain and wind another 16,000 homes wound up with the power out. About 1,600 total workers attacked the downed wires and trees Sunday.
"We share our customers’ frustration that additional poor weather has prevented us from getting power back on as quickly as we had expected for those final customers," said Atlantic City Electric regional vice president Susan Coan. "We are working as quickly and safely as possible, and we won’t slow that pace until service is restored to the last customer.”
Christie's office said that the state will decide to ask for federal aide once all assessments of damage are done.