MILFORD - At their Monday, March 5th meeting, Milford Council President Frank Tarquinio expressed his gratitude to the Police Department, Dave Ruby as the Emergency Management Coordinator, the Milford Fire Department and the Milford Street Department for the excellent level of services rendered since the storm hit the Friday before.
The major impact was loss of communication with lack of power. When the power grid went down, the cell towers switched to battery backup, but with the roads blocked by fallen trees, the cellular companies were unable to bring generators to the tower sites and the battery systems failed. Tarquinio said he was in contact with Pike County Light & Power (PCL&P) operations manager every three or four hours.
Council Vice President Meagen Kameen stated that the utility company did not have an emergency plan in effect and her husband, Jon, in the audience opined that information put out on the PCL&P Facebook page was misleading at best. Another member of the audience stated that Pike County Light and Power only had one truck in the area and no supplies. Tarquinio said their was a contract with the former owners of the utility, Orange and Rockland Utilities, to provide service for a period after the sale, but that contract had expired.
Resident Doug Jacobs made remarks that his neighborhood, 7th, 8th and 9th street on the South side of West Harford Street is consistently overlooked when it comes to borough services and that power has not been restored to that area. Mayor Sean Strub said he had been at a meeting at the 911 Com Center earlier in the day and the first thing that was announced was that the power was 100% restored in Milford Borough. There was no mention of where that information came from.
(As the writer of this story and a business owner in Milford, I can attest that a section of the Borough from Mott Street and 209 South was also without power on Monday.)
Jacobs stated that someone should take the power company to task for being unprepared for a significant weather event. Tarquinio responded by stating that contact will be made to the PUC and he his hoping to get the other two municipalities serviced by PCL&P, Matamoras Borough and Westfall Township, to be included in the action.
Info put on Facebook
President Tarquinio pointed out that the only official presence of the Borough on social media was the Milford Police Department’s Facebook page and that residents should look there for official borough updates (https://www.facebook.com/MilfordPAPolice/).
One of the latest updates concerned the safe use of generators. (from PCL&P): “We’ve encounter at least one-- and I believe TWO--situations since the storm hit when a customer’s generator was energizing the utility power lines. This is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS and it also prevents us from restoring power to those who are still out.”
It was advised that if you are back-feeding your home with a generator that the main breaker allowing power into the house from utilities lines be pulled to avoid this scenario.
Traffic backed up
Acting Police Chief Don Quick attested to the Mayor’s assessment that there were over 200 trucks lined up between Kittatinny Campground on Route 6/209 and into the borough with an equal number of cars. He offered that PennDOT should have posted a flashing sign with a message that there was no I-84 access ahead somewhere between the exit ramp at Matamoras and the Westfall shopping area so that motorists could have parked in those shopping centers instead of becoming stranded out on the roadway. With the roadways all blocked, there was no way the fire service could have responded to an emergency situation.
Bill Malson was in attendance and reminded the council members of his comments made at a borough council meeting where officials of Pike County Light & Power were present after completing their purchase of the utility company from Orange & Rockland Utilities a year or so ago.
Malson’s question was, “What are we going to do if we have a major storm?”
Malson stated he had a background with an electric utility and that it is his belief that the reason for the poor response was that PCL&P is a non-union utility and that all the help coming from other areas are union-based; consequently, these helpers will not come into a non-union territory without a directive coming out of their union.
Malson was also upset that the county really didn’t have a response during the traffic situation and that the many visible county sheriff’s vehicles parked within the borough should have been activated and been out directing traffic and offering assistance to stranded motorists.
[Other Milford Council items are covered in a second part to this report, scheduled for an upcoming edition.]
The Milford Borough Council meets on the first Monday of each month, 7 p.m., at Borough Hall, 109 West Catharine Street, Milford. Please visit the borough’s website at www.milfordboro.org for detailed information. The Council also holds workshop meetings on the third Tuesday of every month from 11 a.m to 1 p.m. The public is welcome to attend and observe these workshops.