Fort Lee Mayor Meets With PSE&G President, Curfew Changed [Updated]

With as many as 5,000 customers still without power in Fort Lee, Mayor Mark Sokolich delivered a list of all the areas in town needing to be restored. He also said the pedestrian curfew is now 8 p.m. so people can vote.

Editor's Note: This article was updated at 7:15 p.m. Monday.

Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich met with the president of PSE&G Monday afternoon—a meeting he said was arranged by State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-37), who will also be present—to give him a list of all the areas in Fort Lee that remain without power.

Sokolich said earlier in the day that the meeting with PSE&G president and CEO Ralph LaRossa was “not going to be a pleasant one.”

“I don’t know how productive it was for Fort Lee, per se, but I’m appreciative of anyone that faces the music, so to speak,” Sokolich said after the meeting, adding that he confirmed that work orders are in for what he called “critical buildings” and circuit breakers that need to be fixed.

Although Sokolich said LaRossa couldn’t provide him with an update on a timeframe for restoring full power to the borough other than that he was told “it should be very shortly,” he also said, “I know it’s a full-court press to get it done.”

“I didn’t really get the answers that I wanted to hear,” Sokolich said, noting that he is still without power himself. “But I’m convinced [Fort Lee] is an absolute priority, and we’re doing everything we can.”

Earlier in the day, Sokolich said he planned to "personally" deliver a list "of every area" in Fort Lee that still didn't have power.

The mayor said Gov. Christie directed mayors to open schools, but that he can’t in Fort Lee until power is restored to all of them.

“Right now we’re looking at 50 percent of these public schools are down,” Sokolich said Monday before the meeting. “PSE&G has not, as far as I’m concerned, said anything yet. They’ve not confirmed that these downed wires are permanently off, so even if all the schools regain power, I have difficulty having these kids get back to school, knowing these wires are where they are.”

The mayor added, “We’re hopeful that will change within the next 24 hours.”

Fort Lee Superintendent of Schools Steven Engravalle emphasized Sunday that school officials were also “hopeful” they could open schools on Wednesday.

According to PSE&G’s online Outage Center, as many as 5,000 customers in Fort Lee remained in the dark as of Monday evening.

Sokolich also said Monday that effective immediately, the curfew he imposed on pedestrian travel in the borough as part of his state of emergency declaration has been moved from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., especially in light of Election Day Tuesday.

“For those people that are abiding by it, I don’t want them not to be able to vote because they can’t get there before 6 p.m.,” Sokolich said, adding that the 8 p.m. curfew would remain in place until further notice.

Paul Umrichin November 05, 2012 at 10:37 PM
I am currently out getting donations and delivering them. I have blankets, getting hot food , and whatever else I can. Email if you want to help
Suzanne Troya November 06, 2012 at 12:54 AM
Very sorry you have experienced the discomfort. I felt sad driving through town and seeing so many of our neighbors without power while we had power. It felt unfaire I suppose there is truth in the saying "misery loves company."
S-man November 06, 2012 at 03:35 AM
I've been patient for a week without power, but at this point I've had it. It is like we are living in a war ravaged 3rd world rat hole. The mayor was full of guff and hyperbole before this meeting yet does not seem to have achieved a single thing. this will be remebered come elections.
Martha Cohen November 06, 2012 at 04:16 AM
This is what happens when you live in an entrenched, one party town. Tomorrow you can all begin to change this - voting is your only power and the opportunity only comes once a year. We, the people of Fort Lee, know that every person is important in this boro but without accountability, we will not be treated that way by the entrenched powers that be. Please consider this when you vote tomorrow.
Arlene Horowitz November 06, 2012 at 05:22 AM
Remember the Mayor's robo call assuring everyone his OEM was on the storm. I have landlines. Called OEM and got voicemail. "Leave a message after the tone." Guess the mayor only gets results from real estate developers who want to destroy the community. He's a disgrace. He spends our tax dollars on a self promoting robo call but can't find the money to provide shelter or answer his OEM phone.
Art Elmers November 06, 2012 at 11:00 AM
I thank the Mayor for all his efforts. I don't think he meant to insult anyone. As a Board Member at Horizon House I believe that his comment about Horizon one, two and five being "most important" has more to do about the height (29 and 16 stories) of the buildings than anything else. Remember that water pressure only gets water to the eleventh floor and above if the pumps are off. No water no toilets. That many of our older residents can not walk up and down from the higher floors. We also lost over fifty windows and another storm is coming. While many single family homes are still without power (including the Mayor's) they still have running water and can easily enter and exit their homes. If there is any deserving our wrath it is PSE&G. They have totally mismanaged this recovery and continue to pee on us and tell us it is raining.
Paul Umrichin November 06, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Art - I understand the situation very well however like us surface dwellers that was your risk. When you choose to live in a high rise there are risks just like homeowners. The risk that if power goes out this is the consequence. At that point you should have a contingency plan. Know what you need to do, who you need to call, and how you are going to accomplish your plan. Down here our families plan is and has been in effect and working well. It's not that I don't have sympathy, I totally do, but this is what happens when you assume the system won't fail you.
RITA D. November 06, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Yes Johnny Damato has been collecting cloths coats blankets and canned foods to help the people closest to fort lee moonachie and little ferry . You can drop at 440 brinkerhoff ave apt b fort lee. We will try to drop off before the next Storm hits thanks and pass the word
Jeanette November 06, 2012 at 02:32 PM
I still do not have power and the next storm hits tomorrow. Does that mean it continues to be too bad for me and the rest of my neighbors at The Pembroke on Center Avenue. NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE AND YOU CANNOT GET ANY INFORMATION!! Call PSE&G and you will not get a response. Call the Mayor's Office and all you will get is a recording. No one will tell us anything. It is a simple question - - after being patient for now 8 days, when do you think you'll be able to get the power on?
The Thorn November 06, 2012 at 02:54 PM
PSE&G attempts to restore power to the hospitals police, fire department and other emergency services first. Then power is restored by population. I applaud Mr. LaRossa for standing up to these politicians.
S-man November 06, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Last night there were a bunch of trucks and men working on Abbott Blvd. However, they went home and looking at Abbott it is obvious they are not finished. No sign of them this morning. WHERE ARE THEY? It is cold and miserable in my house and my family have been basically in exile in Hudson County for the last 4 days. With a storm coming tomorrow, are we going to get our power back in time?
S-man November 06, 2012 at 03:10 PM
@The Thom - Are there hospitals, emergency services, fire departments etc. without power still? If that's the case, I don't think that PSE&G have been prioritizing them over all the homes that have had power restored. The logic works both ways.
andrey November 06, 2012 at 03:18 PM
To everyone who still does not have power, if you want to file a complaint you have to do it with the New Jersey State Board of Public Utilities (BPU). The more people file the better, this is the only way PSEG will get off their ass and actually bring more then one work crew into town, our mayor is useless for this. According to PSEG Customer Bill of Rights "You have the right to call upon the New Jersey State Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to investigate your utility complaints and inquiries. Your service may not be terminated for non-payment of disputed charges during a BPU investigation." http://www.pseg.com/home/welcome/bill_of_rights.jsp To file a complaint online or by phone go to: http://www.state.nj.us/bpu/assistance/complaints/
Dale November 06, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Good advice to file a complaint with the BPU. I just filed online. Nine days without power is outrageous! Why can't the community center be opened at night? Our mayor thinks its more important to have it open during the day to charge electronics. No concern for the residents that are freezing at night.
Marie November 06, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Thank you for the link. I just filed a complaint - everyone should do so. As a reminder we were also the last to get power back last year (Oct. 2011) during the snowstorm. Everyone in the surrounding area has their power back on now and it was the same last year.
frustrated on forest November 06, 2012 at 05:18 PM
I have filed a complaint as well. am 5 months pregnant and have been without power for 8 days now. it is unacceptable that there is not a more definite update as to when we will have power restored. am very disappointed with the mayor and PSE&G's efforts to restore power to our area.
Toni M. November 06, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Standing up to Politicians? Seriously? As of last night, our police department was working on generators, so much for their plan! Incompetent
Toni M. November 06, 2012 at 08:49 PM
Keep filing Complaints if you don't have power.
BJ November 06, 2012 at 09:20 PM
REMEMBER MARK SOKOLICH ON ELECTION DAY! When he asks for your vote tell him YOU DON'T KNOW!
BJ November 06, 2012 at 09:21 PM
REMEMBER MARK SOKOLICH ON ELECTION DAY! When he asks for your vote tell him - YOU DON'T KNOW!
BJ November 06, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Mark's handling of this like everything else in Fort Lee was atrocious. He should hang his head in shame for what happened to the senior citizens on North Avenue. How was there NOT a contingency plan in place for the elderly? His excuses are typical of a politician and lawyer. Hogwash and all grandstanding. He had to call a senator to speak with PSEG? And it took an entire week? Two years ago my lights went out and as always the PD had no answers. So I personally went to PSEG and GOT THE ANSWERS MYSELF. I can assure you, unlike Mark Sokolich, they have plans for all these disasters. Mind you, I did not request a precise time and date. I simply asked if it would be 24 or, 72 hours or more so people could make other arrangements. Not knowing is what upsets people MORE. PSEG knows where their crews are and where they are headed next! The man told me 6pm that day. They came on at 4pm. On 11/4/12 I again spoke to PSEG about the damage on Abbott between Route 5 and Columbia Avenue. I was told 2 weeks at best given the magnitude of damage. I saw the 2 huge tree's that took down almost an entire block of wires, poles and even two lights. There is a lot of work to be done. There are in fact answers if you are not out giving speeches and excuses.
BJ November 06, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Lastly, it is blindingly obvious Mark Sokolich cannot handle the duties and responsibilities of the Borough of Fort Lee. One can only image what it will be like with the addition of not one, but two, 47 story luxury hi rises! This town was not built to support nor is it capable of withstanding the number of residents it now has. Mark is completely out of his intellectual realm. The time has come to start focusing on population control to prevent and or at least minimize situations like this in the future.
pmmike November 07, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Hey buddy...you a making quite a name for yourself with a history of offense comments. A bit of neighborly advice...muster up some self discipline and occupy yourself elsewhere.
Paul Umrichin November 07, 2012 at 04:24 AM
Buddy? Really? Thank you for taking the time to create an account under that rocking pseudonym just to comment to me. The short answer to your question... No. The long one.... If people have the right to come on here to complain about people in town ( including my wife) then I have the right to point out their BS. For Example, Toni M was quick to tell us that seniors near her were cold and scared to leave the house. At that I posted a blog for help and started a collection of both food and blankets and asked for help, donations, and locations of senior. Funny thing was I didn't hear from her in comments or email of where i could drop off hot food and blankets. Amazing how she was quick to say help was needed but never took the offer of help. Oh wait yeah she was claiming seniors cause she wanted her own power back. So save your advice, I'm a big boy and can take care of myself.
Richard November 07, 2012 at 04:35 AM
"Keep filing Complaints if you don't have power." You need to contact news media. There was a huge trunk dangling on power line between poles on my street for 5 days, no one came to take it down. I called PSE&G and told them I was reporting to New York Times re their so called "restoration effort focus on Fort Lee", which I did. The 2nd day morning, contractors were sent in by PSE&G to take down the dangerous tree. To deal with such corporation with de facto monopoly, we need to go to news media to expose their lie and tell the truth. Just like that we must exercise our rights to vote out the political crooks. P.S. to the misery of us, the PSEG person conducting estimation over the weekend, to whom I asked in person, also told me " 2 more weeks to the minimum". The current Fort Lee municipal administration is completely useless. Not only they don't have guts to fight for the people, they cannot or dare not even to get the truth to the people! I am writing to NY Times again now.
Richard November 07, 2012 at 05:02 AM
Toni, talking about police department running on generator, not sure if you read the news that Fort Lee policeman called in tow truck to deal with frustrated person waiting in line for hours hoping to get some gas ... And eventually sent the poor guy to jail after some struggle. That's the capability of our police force in handling situation. Totally incompetent yet very arrogant and power hungry. We need Michael Bloomberg kind of real manager and entrepreneur to manage our city, not weak and lying politician. Again, use our votes / rights, and voice the truth and our miserable hopeless reality to news media. This is still the United States of America, by the people and for the people.
Quint November 07, 2012 at 03:31 PM
how can you say that the Mayor is responsible for all of this? Don't we have a police department, fire department and office of emergency management that has paid members who should be providing the mayor and council with information regarding emergencies??
BJ November 07, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Quint: On Tuesday the morning after the storm, I walked a good portion of the town to survey the damage. I saw (municipal) vehicle after vehicle after vehicle after vehicle driving throughout the entire town doing nothing more than wasting precious gas. Many vehicles had two occupants. How many times I wanted to run out into the street and ask just how many time they were going to drive by branches on the road and not move or pick them up. I noticed residents doing the work instead. I was appalled to say the least. On Friday morning I did the same, walked through the town. By now tempers were flaring. No electricity in so many places, no food, no gas. The shelves in 7-11 had practically been stripped bare. Everyone I spoke with was furious because they were left in the dark physically and metaphorically. Look at Hoboken and how brilliantly they handled their situation with massive flooding. The mayor held a meeting every single day to keep people up to date and informed. In a age where there is now instant information there was no excuse for the way this was handled or who is solely responsible for the inepitude.
Thomas A Bennett November 10, 2012 at 05:20 PM
On Monday before the election, I went to the Community center to see how folks were doing. Since I was a candidate, many complaints were about the center closing at 6PM. I called the Mayor's office and asked why the center would not be open after 6. I was told that the Mayor imposed a curfew. I suggested that since he imposed the curfew, he take it off so these poor folks could be warm and have light. I even suggested that the Mayor could get some good will by doing this. I was told the Mayor was in a "meeting", I left my number. I have yet to receive a call.
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