Although Sandy shares many of the same dangerous elements as its stormy predecessors, officials in Ridgewood and Glen Rock say it is its own animal. And the recovery effort could take weeks.
The level of damage in Ridgewood is phenomenal, on par or worse than each of the storms in 2011, officials said. Winds gusts hit well over 50 mph, toppling hundreds of trees in both towns.
"Approximately 70 percent of the town is without power," Ridgewood Parks and Recreation head Tim Cronin told Patch Tuesday. "It's bad."
More than half of Glen Rock was also without power and schools are closed Wednesday and Thursday.
"It's a devastating storm, no doubt," Ridgewood Mayor Paul Aronsohn said. "The damage is widespread and it's extensive. It's hard to compare with others though."
Glen Rock Mayor John van Keuren agreed with Aronsohn's take.
"I've been trying to compare it to the storm last year and it's difficult to do that," he said. "Some areas that were hard hit last year dont seem to have been hit that hard this year. Other sections of town are worse than last year in terms of power outages."
The major problem is more that power cannot get into the towns than grid issues within the municipalities.
PSE&G's primary lines all shoot from their main substations. If the substations go down as they have and local lines are damaged by fallen trees, repairs can be expected to take some time. It will be three days before the substations even are operational, PSE&G told local officials Tuesday.
Residents can expect power to be out until later this week at the earliest, van Keuren said. Estimates range as long as a week to 10 days in particularly troublesome cases.
So while it's not entirely clear when PSE&G will be arriving to work on residential homes, they have been spotted in Ridgewood. Utility workers were seen around the Willard section of town, de-electrifying lines. They were also spotted on N. Van Dien Avenue around Valley Hospital, which was operating on generator power. A hospital source told Patch power restoration was expected by late Wednesday afternoon.
Elective surgeries have been canceled for Wednesday, the source said.
Among the major infrastructure concerns are the pumping stations of Ridgewood Water. Some of the facilities were without power – and with no generators – causing pressure to drop. Utility officials were waiting for PSE&G to restore full power and were borrowing water from neighboring utilities.
Meanwhile, Ridgewood Water was strongly encouraging residents to conserve water as best they can. No boil water alert has been issued and it is safe to drink, officials told Patch.
Aronsohn and van Keuren both said it's still too soon to know what cost the damage of Sandy will yield.
In Glen Rock, they're being aggressive in trying to clear hazardous elements as effectively and safely as possible, van Keuren said.
"If it takes work on Saturdays and Sundays we're going to pay for it," he remarked. "If we can do it in a week-to-10 days I'll be pleased."
"We're doing all the trees we can that don't have power lines in them," Cronin, a Parks veteran for more than 30 years, told Patch. "We have four crews out."
Ridgewood officials said 16 trees crashed onto houses during Sandy; 22 fell in Glen Rock. More than 150 locations throughout Ridgewood were reported. Glen Rock too had damage in most neighborhoods.
The borough will be exploring whether it needs to bring in outside contractors to accelerate the work, van Keuren said Tuesday night.
Ridgewood has designated Somerville Elementary School to act as a charging station from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Ridgewood library will be open from 10 to 4 p.m. to provide checkouts. The power is still down there, however.
Glen Rock's Borough Hall will also be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. for temporary shelter. Schools in Ridgewood will be closed on Wednesday. They'll be closed in Glen Rock on Wednesday and Thursday.
Many primary roads in both towns are open, though there are closures littered throughout each municipality. Secondary roads should start to see some action by workers Wednesday.
Still, hazards are still abound in both municipalities, including electrified power lines dangling precariously over streets and homes.
Van Keuren appealed to residents to use good judgment in not having their children out while many wires are still present.
"We're worried about kids going around in the dark with lines down or people having trunk treats," he said. "I think if everybody shows a little patience, respect and safety on the roads we're going to get through this."
Have a question or news tip? Contact editor James Kleimann at James.Kleimann@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox every morning, sign up for our daily newsletter.