Greg Smith, WB2PPQ #7 in Chester NJ

Saturday Nov. 3, 2012

Short summary of the effects of Sandy:

Chatham sustained wind damage to homes and massive power outages that were caused by trees that toppled over in sustained winds of  around 75 mph.  One of my neighbor’s trees came down on the utility lines and snapped 2 two telephone poles.  This shorted power lines and caused a power transformer to explode as it smashed onto the pavement.  Live wires were on the pavement at the nearby Weston/North Passaic Ave intersection.  Cars were driving over the live wires!  Chatham police yellowed taped the area, yet some cars felt safe to once again drive under the yellow tape.

During the height of the storm, the centralized multimillion dollar Morris County Police radio system went down for an extended period of time; our local police were forced to use a hand full of the older technology 155 Mhz equipment that worked well.  First Aide and public works department also use the newer Motorola (I believe) digital trunk system.  I monitored the older police frequency and it was an all hands on deck with most of the community without power.  Most of the traffic lights were also not working.

I lost about 7 shingles and my neighbor lost about 20% of their shingles.  I had my little 3.5 KW propane generator in the detached garage ready to roll with a 30 amp., cable to the house to a double duplex electrical box.  I had run electrical cords to needed items to power.  I lost power for 1/2 hour and then it came back on while most of the town was out.  Looking at the night sky all as I could see was bright flashes from arcing power wires in every direction.

Chester:  Most of Chester was also without power.  The near town of Mendham and Mendham Twp. had 150 telephone poles snapped in half by fallen trees – these are tiny towns so you can imagine what other towns suffered.  Barb lost two tall trees, one that exceeded 100 ft that was located at the border of her back property.  The top branches just touched her deck.  We have worked 2 days cutting the back tree to the extent my 18″ chain saw will cut and once again using the Toro tractor and moving truck and 2 x 4 to move small branches to the street for pick-up.  The tree in the front went across the power lines.  This tree is being supported by a smaller tree.  Barb is close to the Chester substation and had power throughout the storm event.  Cable/tel./internet just restored tonight.  Some pictures attached.  The G5RV dipole antenna did not survive the fall of the back tree, however, I had a rope and pulley system that permitted me to tie the copper wire together and raise the antenna to be on the weather nets early the next morning.

Gas is almost impossible to get and there is no food available locally -o mostly delivery and power issues.


Hi Dick, here is an update on conditions here in Chester, NJ:

Thanks for posting Sandy,  This morning in church, the mayor of Chester announced that 60 % of the town is still without power.  Since most homes have wells and private septic systems this becomes a real issue.  The town has a distribution center for bottled water, one case per family for the event.  There is still no local food store (ShopRite) open or gasoline available.  Residents have to travel to PA, about 60 miles away to obtain fuel for vehicles or for their power generators.  However, propane is available!  This is something to think about if you plan to buy a future generator – consider a tri-fuel powered unit.  Propane distributors do not need power to fill your propane tank.

Barb never lost power, just cable service; we have opened our home to our church family so that folks can get warm and take a hot shower.

One of the local churches has been providing two hot meals a day for anyone needing a meal.  There has been no support from any other agency.  These agencies are overwhelmed with providing welfare and housing for those folks that resided in coastal communities.

Cell phone service was almost impossible during this storm; however, you could get text data messages through all the time, another fact to keep in mind if you have a severe storm event and need to communicate with another cell phone user.

In Fairfield, NJ where my daughter resides power generators were being stolen at wee hours of the morning; a quick way for the bad guys to make money.  Police recommend that generators be chained.  Chester, fortunately does not have this problem; its been helping your neighbor and that is wonderful.

Best, Greg

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