Urban seniors vulnerable to lack of power

New Jersey’s urban seniors right now in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy are facing serious challenges as a consequence of lack of electrical power, according to leaders in our main cities.

Paterson Mayor Jeff Jones said he is worried that the absence of power in the Silk City could be the equivalent of the impact of flooding caused by Hurricane Irene.

Senior citizens in high rises who lack heat face transport and relocation issues. 

“The problem is worsened now by the fact that there’s been a run on the Home Depots and Lowes for generators, but there’s no gas for the generators,” said Jones. 

“We have some seniors who don’t have families and who lack a place to go,” added Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-35).

“We’re going to work around the clock on this,” said Paterson Councilman Andre Sayegh, who noted the particular challenge of about 100 seniors who do not have power and face that much more hardship as a result.

Jersey City Mayor Jerry Healy said 70% of his city is without power and worries about residents intent on driving worsening the situation for the more vulnerable.

96% of Union County is without power, and sheriff’s office deputies are alert to reports of looting.

In Trenton, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-15) said he sees pockets of power, but for the most part people are still going without.

“Most of us have water and gas, but still no electricity,” said the assemblyman.

“The standard answer from PSE&G is it will take seven days or more for restoration, but I’m hearing people tell me they just got their power back on today,” he added. “The key is having patience –  and a lot of candles.”  

Mercer senior citizens housed in six AARP buildings are doubling up, with those seniors occupying buildings with no power relocating to buildings that have power.

Wimberly told PolitickerNJ.com it’s a manpower issue in Paterson.

“We have trees down in the city but our DPW guys can’t pick them up yet because they have to wait for PSE&G to check to make sure they’re not dealing with live wires,” the assemblyman said. “Under the circumstances PSE&G is doing a good job.”

As impactful as the crisis is on New Jersey’s cities, Wimberly said he must remind residents that this is not a question of neglect. 

“The power is out at gas stations, and it shows how serious this is,” he said. “It’s everybody. It’s not a Paterson situation. It’s impacting people in Paterson and in Hackensack. I hate to use the word ‘patient’ but we have to be patient, and people need to be off the streets. This is not an urban issue, this is widespread.”

 

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