Aerial views of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to the New Jersey coast taken during a search and rescue mission by 1-150 Assault Helicopter Battalion, New Jersey Army National Guard, Oct. 30, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen/Released)
By Stephanie Pawlowski
PRINCETON, NJ - Ameren Illinois workers helping Public Service Electric and Gas Company restore power in New Jersey are running into saturated grounds, downed trees and soon flooding.
There are 200 Ameren linemen, 150 contractors and 100 forestry contractors now in New Jersey helping 300,000 customers in Princeton. Ameren Vice President of Operations and Technical Services Ron Pate said the workers will probably be there for ten to 14 days.
"We're seeing a lot of tree damage, a lot of poles broken and wires down," Pate said. "The ground was so saturated, the trees are just coming out at the roots, no matter how big it is - it seems like - and taking wires and poles down with it."
Pate said after finishing up in Princeton, the crews will move north.
"We're going to clear up in the next couple of days and we'll be asked to move north, and our understanding is north, there's a lot more flood damage than what we're seeing right here," Pate said.
The flooding has damaged underground power lines.
It's more than just installing new lines and poles, Pate said in some cases, workers are completely rebuilding systems. Ameren is just one Midwest power company helping the East Coast. About 15,000 to 16,000 electrical workers from the Midwest are assisting, including hundreds of workers from ComEd.
"It's not something that will be cleaned up overnight. I know their customers are probably getting weary," Pate said. "It's been three or four days now, but hopefully they understand that this is just a massive undertaking."
But, Pate said the residents are grateful for the service and some have been coming out to thank the workers.
Stephanie Pawlowski can be reached at Stephanie.Pawlowski@Cumulus.com.