Early this morning (Sunday, Nov. 4), a Lawrence Township fire engine – Rescue 23 – staffed by a crew of seven volunteer firefighters from the Lawrenceville, Lawrence Road and Slackwood fire companies headed to Ocean County as part of a mutual aid task force that also included fire trucks – Engine 16-1, Engine 60, Rescue 41 and Tanker 42 – and firefighters from Hamilton, Princeton, Hightstown and East Windsor.
Their 24-hour assignment is to respond to fires and other emergencies to help relieve the exhausted local firefighters in some of the Jersey Shore towns that were hit the hardest by Hurricane Sandy.
At noon today, the Mercer County firefighters said they were standing by at the firehouse of Bayville Volunteer Fire Co. Station 17. Bayville firefighters have reportedly responded to 400 emergency calls in the last week as a result of Hurricane Sandy, including 10 house fires in just the last 24 hours.
Of the 15,496 PSE&G customers in Lawrence Township, an estimated 1,096 were still without power today, according to the latest PSE&G data posted on the State of New Jersey’s Hurricane Sandy Information Center website.
As of 10 a.m. today, PSE&G estimated that about 493,000 of its customers statewide were still without power.
PSE&G officials today again stressed that it is important that customers without power call 800-436-PSEG (7734) to be sure the utility company is aware of their specific outage.
Some Lawrence Township customers on Lawrenceville-Pennington Road and neighboring streets who had gotten their power restored lost it again Saturday night, but the utility company was able to sort out that problem after a couple hours and again return electrical service to those homes.
On Saturday, representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency toured Lawrence Township and neighboring municipalities to see first-hand some of the damage caused in Mercer County by Hurricane Sandy.
Based on the information gathered by those FEMA representatives, a determination will then be made as to whether Mercer County will be declared a disaster area. Such a designation is important because it would allow Mercer County to apply for U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency federal disaster aid.
That aid, in turn, would provide residents with grants for temporary housing, home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the storm.
“We appreciate FEMA’s swift response to Mercer County and the time they have devoted to touring,” Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes said in a news release. “We were able to point out the widespread destruction of Hurricane Sandy, and we believe that Mercer County residents should receive the same opportunity to apply for these federal benefits to begin putting their lives and property back together.”
As Mercer County residents continue to pick up the pieces after Hurricane Sandy, Hughes encouraged residents who have sustained little or no damage to consider donating time or money to legitimate organizations such as the Red Cross http://www.redcross.org/charitable-donations or Salvation Army, https://donate.salvationarmyusa.org/. People may also call 1-800-JERSEY-7, he said.
“During times of crisis such as this, stories of neighbors helping clear debris from the yards of others, neighbors opening their homes to each other for a hot meal or shower, reaffirm my belief that Mercer County is one of the finest communities in New Jersey. I’m humbled and encouraged by those stories, and I encourage the great people of Mercer County to continue in that spirit and give where they can,” Hughes said.
As Mercer County awaits word from FEMA, Hughes again urged residents and businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy to document their losses and any expenses incurred in their recovery, such as costs to pump water out of a basement, replace a water heater or stay in temporary housing.
“Documenting your losses does not guarantee your eligibility for disaster relief, but it may be required by FEMA or your homeowner’s insurance company,” Hughes said. “Compiling that documentation is a critical step in the process.”
Residents should first contact their homeowner’s and flood insurance companies, and arrange for an adjuster to visit their property, Hughes said. He suggested that before cleaning up, residents videotape or take photos of damaged property and belongings, and that they keep all receipts from purchases made to make repairs.
If Mercer County is added to the Presidential Disaster Declaration, residents who have suffered losses should register with FEMA at www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling (800) 621-FEMA (3362) to gain access to further information and applications for FEMA programs. Federal disaster assistance is meant to help individuals and families with critical expenses that cannot be covered in other ways. It is not intended to restore damaged property to its condition before the disaster.
Polling locations in Lawrence Township for Tuesday’s general election have not changed as a result of Hurricane Sandy but some polling locations in East Windsor, Hightstown, Hopewell, Princeton and West Windsor have been relocated due to a variety of storm-related reasons such as power outages and flooding. A list of those changes can be found here.
The following information about voting on Nov. 6 was released yesterday by Mercer County.
The Office of the Mercer County Clerk has been receiving many calls about sample ballot delays. Please know this office mailed sample ballots out last Friday and Saturday, Oct. 27 and 28 – much earlier than the state mailing requirement of Wednesday, Oct. 31.
However, the mail has not been delivered to all destinations due to postal delays following Hurricane Sandy. The county clerk is working with state officials in the New Jersey Division of Elections and the U.S. Postal Service to expedite delivery.
Please note that your sample ballot may no longer correctly reflect your polling location because sample ballots were mailed out before the hurricane. Locations were changed by the Mercer County Board of Elections due to power outages and flooding from the storm.
Voters can use the following feature to find out if their polling location has been changed by the Mercer County Board of Elections the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy:
Text WHERE to 877877 and you will be prompted to text your address. Moments later, you will receive a text that includes all details regarding your polling location. This is a fantastic feature for immediate changes to locations due to Hurricane Sandy.
For questions about the change, you may contact the Mercer County Board of Elections, Joanne Palmucci, chairwoman or click on the following link: http://www.state.nj.us/counties/mercer/commissions/elections/