Valhalla, Towaco Residents Feel Ignored as Power Restoration Continues
JCP&L told township officials they would be working in the neighborhoods as residents kept fingers crossed.
Like many throughout New Jersey, some Montville residents in sections of Towaco and the Lake Valhalla community remained without power Thursday.
Knowing neighbors throughout the township had already seen their power restored was frustrating, one said.
"It's hard to see other people's power coming back on and you've still got nothing," Lauren Trionfo, a Duynecrest Road resident, said.
Trionfo has been without power since 2 p.m. on Oct. 29. Her family was recently loaned a generator by a friend whose power was restored, but she said she has only been using it to heat up the house at night so that her family is warm enough to sleep there. She has been cooking meals on the grill, working at her friend's house, doing laundry at her boss' house and simply trying to make the best of 10 days without power.
"You don't realize how tiring and exhausting the experience is until you get to a point where all of a sudden, everything comes crashing down on you," she said.
Trionfo has lived in Towaco for 21 years and said she has never lost power for more than a single day.
"I don't know what happened this time, but it was catastrophic to some degree," she said. "And we were not even the center of that storm, so I can't imagine what it's like for those folks down the shore."
Marianne Hodulik, a Lake Valhalla resident, said she was expecting her neighborhood, on the far end of the lake, to be one of the last to regain power. Her home remained dark on Thursday, but she said the storm, itself, was what was most frightening.
"The night of the storm was really scary because we were essentially trapped at our house," she said.
Hodulik and her family attempted to leave the neighborhood to stay at her mother's home off of Changebridge Road.
"After packing up and heading out in the rain, we got about 100 feet up the road from our house only to find a big tree down in the middle of the street," she said. "So we had to turn back."
Hodulik said she slept in the kitchen that night "thinking it was the safest place in our house from the trees." The next day, Hodulik said she was impressed to see her neighbors get out their own chainsaws and begin chopping down the trees in the roads.
On Thursday, Hodulik said she saw utility workers on her street, but they would not make promises that power would be restored immediately.
"I'm crossing my fingers today is our lucky day!" she said.
Trionfo said she has felt heartwarmed by the kindness of others through the outage, but discouraged by what she described as a lack of communication from the power company. Township officials have described a similar frustration.
"Every time I called JCP&L, they would tell me that they knew about us. They had records of our calls, yet nothing happened," she said.
Ron Morano, spokesperson for JCP&L, was unavailable for comment Thursday.
If she had received a response, Trionfo said she may have felt better about her situation.
"Communication is a thing that can save everything. At least you feel like, 'Somebody knows about me and they're not ignoring me,'" she said. "Those things are not in place."
Susan Marinello, another Lake Valhalla resident, had her power restored Wednesday after being out for more than a week. But, unlike Trionfo, Marinello said the long-lasting outage was not so unusual for the area.
"In the 22 years that I have lived in Lake Valhalla, I have been without power for three days or more about 15 times. In general, this area of town loses power about once a week for some period of time," she said.
Marinello also said she has called every level of government and JCP&L directly, but that her calls have gone unanswered. She did speak to a JCP&L representative who, she said, did not specifically answer her questions.
"I spoke with JCP&L and they read a script. When I asked them specifically about the nor'easter, they had no answer in the script," she said. "The information they put out is very general. They're not really saying what parts of town, and what, they're working on."
But Marinello said her family made the best of being without power when it was gone and even hosted a Halloween party last week in the dark.
"We're having a good time with it because we can't be unhappy," she said.