Electric, water, gas firms gird for Joaquin
When gale-force winds and pummelling rains batter the shore, it's only natural to think, "Will my electricity stay on?". And, as many of us have learned the hard way, high-intensity weather events can also impact the flow of natural gas and water to our homes and businesses. The uncertainty during the outage can be nerve-wracking.
In a related story on our page, Ron Morano of Jersey Central Power and Light and Frank Tedesco of Atlantic City Electric go into considerable detail about procedures the companies are taking to minimize storm-related outages.
So, what are the water and gas companies doing?
At United Water Toms River, they're concentrating on maintaining flow to your taps, which relies on...electricity. Director of Operations Jim Mastrokalos says that his crews have checked backup generators, stored water levels and treatment chemical supplies, and are coordinating with area emergency response teams.
"The company's goal is to provide uninterrupted service and to respond as quickly as possible to any emergency situations that occur," Mastrokalos said in a prepared statement.
Meanwhile, Mastrokalos strongly recommends storing extra water in clean, food-grade containers, and setting aside batteries, flashlights and food.
The havoc that the Superstorm wreaked on natural gas lines forced New Jersey Natural Gas into the unprecedented and difficult move of cutting off service to the northern barrier island, in order to counteract flames shooting from below ground where houses had been ripped from their foundations.
As Joaquin approaches, the company recommends checking the perimeter of the house for loose items, and refraining from trying to turn off service at the meter, especially if you're asked to evacuate.
During and after the storm, if the odor of natural gas reaches your nostrils, leave the building and call 800-GAS-LEAK (800-427-5325) from a safe place. Don't use telephones, flashlights or lighters, or turn lights and appliances on of off.
Natural gas leaks can be detected by sense of smell (strong odor of rotten eggs, added to the scentless commodity for just that reason); sight (dirt circulating in the air, bubbles in standing water, dead vegetation near pipelines); and soung (hissing, whistling or roaring noise).
If any appliances operate with pilot lights, don't extinguish them or re-ignite them. Call NJNG or a plumber or contractor. If water enters your heating apparatus or water heater, call 800-GAS-LEAK.