Update, Nov. 2: Preliminary Mercer County damage estimates are now over $2.8 million.
With roughly half of Mercer County electrical customers still without power and more than 90 traffic signals inoperable throughout the county, Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes on Wednesday (Oct. 31) called for the closure of all Mercer County government offices and courts on Thursday, Nov. 1, and Friday, Nov. 2, to allow work crews to continue restoration of county infrastructure.
“Municipal, county and state crews have been working around the clock to get our network of roads reopened, but anyone who has traveled in and around Mercer County knows that navigation is a real challenge right now,” Hughes said on Wednesday. “We still have a long way to go, and the best way to hasten recovery is to give our crews a safe working environment to remove the hundreds of downed trees.”
The county’s office of emergency management estimated that about 90 percent of the approximately 150,000 electrical customers in the county lost power at some point as a result of the storm.
For a Google Map of road closures in Mercer County, go to http://goo.gl/maps/p5VH9.
On Wednesday, Mercer County emergency management teams conducted Preliminary Damage Assessments (PDAs) of local and county government expenditures related to storm “protective measures” and cleanup, and determined the amount to be in excess of $2.5 million.
Damage from Hurricane Sandy is widespread and countywide; no Mercer County municipality was spared, Hughes said, noting that a PDA is a specific process used to gather supporting information for Gov. Christie’s request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration.
Reports of illegal hikes in gas prices have been reported to Mercer County Office of Weights and Measures, and Hughes ordered that office to ensure that station owners and attendants adhere to consumer protection laws.
Merchants may not raise prices more than once in a 24-hour period. Any station caught in violation of these measures will be fined by Mercer County and ordered to stop selling gasoline until corrective action has been completed, Hughes said.
Residents are asked to call (609) 989-6579 to report suspected violations at gas stations.
Trenton-Mercer Airport in Ewing – which was forced to close at noon Monday in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy’s strong wind gusts but which reopened Tuesday morning – remained open and operational on Wednesday.
Hughes said a number of municipalities on Wednesday were offering “reception sites” to provide people with electricity, snacks and drinks. People who need to charge medical supplies, such as oxygen packs, can do so at these facilities. Residents should contact their local office of emergency management or police department for more information.
Most branches of the Mercer County Library System were still without power Wednesday and Hughes said the county was working “swiftly” to reopen the libraries that do have power.
A daylong workshop on preventing child sexual abuse, scheduled for today, Nov. 1 at Mercer County Community College has been postponed because of Hurricane Sandy. “Preventing Child Sexual Abuse: It’s Everyone’s Responsibility” will be rescheduled for a date yet to be determined. People who preregistered will be contacted once an alternate date has been selected. For information, please call Yolanda Leon at (609) 989-6966 or e-mail email@example.com.
Another daylong workshop, the 2012 Co-Occurrence Task Force Trauma and Addiction Conference, scheduled for today at Robert Wood Johnson Health and Wellness Center has also been postponed because of Hurricane Sandy. The free event will be rescheduled for a date to be determined. People who preregistered will be contacted once an alternate date has been selected. For information, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the hurricane’s aftermath, residents should also beware of unscrupulous contractors and scammers, Hughes said, noting that scams are common after storms of this magnitude because homeowners are eager to get repairs under way.
“Before entering into any contract, I urge homeowners to be skeptical and to investigate whether the contractor is licensed, insured and registered,” he said.
The Mercer County Division of Consumer Affairs offered the following additional tips for residents who are considering hiring a contractor:
- Call the Division of Consumer Affairs to learn whether the contractor has been the subject of any consumer complaints.
- Demand a written contract. Don’t sign or pay for anything unless you understand and agree to all of the terms and conditions, including the fine print. Be sure to carefully review the list of materials that will be used.
- Never pay the full price up-front.
- Demand ID from anyone who claims to be from a utility company and wishes to inspect your home.
- Never give your credit card number to strangers over the phone or Internet.
For more information or to file a complaint, contact the Mercer County Division of Consumer Affairs at (609) 989-6671 or go to www.mercercounty.org. The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs can be reached at (800) 242-5846 or by visiting www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov.
Previous Mercer County-Specific Hurricane Sandy Coverage:
- Oct. 31: “Power-Loss Safety Concerns Prompt Evacuations (Lawrence Township)”
- Oct. 31: “Princeton Township Opens Municipal Building to Residents”
- Oct. 31: “”
- Oct. 30: "Storm Cleanup Effort Underway in Lawrence Township"
- Oct. 30: "Photo Gallery: Lawrence Township & Hurricane Sandy"
- Oct. 30: "Lawrence Township: What's Going On With Sandy?"
- Oct. 30: “Hurricane Sandy Brings Chaos to Princeton”
- Oct. 30: "Princeton Man Dies During Hurricane Sandy"
- Oct. 30: “Photo Gallery: Hurricane Sandy Aftermath (East Windsor)”
- Oct. 30: “Photo Gallery: Hurricane Sandy (East Windsor)”
- Oct. 29: ""
- Oct. 29: "Mercer County Residents Urged to 'Shelter in Place'"
- Oct. 28: “Mercer County Braces for Storm”
- Oct. 28: “No Unauthorized Travel Allowed After 6 Tonight as Lawrence Township Declares State of Emergency”
- Oct. 28: “
- Oct. 27: “Lawrence Township Braces for Hurricane Sandy”
- Oct. 27: “Princeton Prepares for Hurricane Sandy”
- Oct. 27: “'Limited' State of Emergency Declared in Mercer County”
- Oct. 27: “Area Municipalities Prepare For Sandy”
- Oct. 26: “Mercer County Mobilizes Resources in Advance of Sandy”
- Oct. 26: “County Executive Urges Residents to Prepare for Sandy”