As the worst of Hurricane Sandy passed through Princeton Monday evening, the real strength of the storm became evident in its aftermath on Tuesday. About 75 percent of the town remained without power, at least 60 local roads were closed and nine out of 14 traffic lights were not working as of Tuesday afternoon, according to local authorities.
The total count of fallen trees on campus has reached 50, with many more in town. One of the trees took the life of the storm’s only victim in Princeton so far, Township resident William Sword ’76, who died when a tree fell on him while he was cleaning debris in front of his house Monday evening.
No injured University community members have been reported. The University will be closed Wednesday for a third straight day. Most academic and all administrative facilities are also being shut down in order to save energy. The University’s cogeneration plant is powering and heating residential buildings.
Between one and 1.1 million customers of Public Service Electric and Gas Company, the utility company that provides electricity to Princeton Borough, Princeton Township and the University, have lost power due to the storm, according to a 6 p.m. PSE&G statement. As of 8:30 p.m., one million customers had yet to regain power, according to PSE&G Spokesperson John Masi.
Masi said the company did not have specific numbers for Princeton yet because the company is still assessing the damage. However, the PSE&G website has reported since Tuesday that between 12.3 and 30.7 percent of Township residents and between 16.2 and 40.6 percent of Borough residents do not have power. These figures are lower than the 75 percent estimated by the Princeton governments.
In Mercer County, 90,287 outages have been reported, according to the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management.
The University is currently “wholly dependent” on the cogeneration plant, according to an email from University Provost Christopher Eisgruber ’83 to department chairs and academic managers.
The plant can supply the amount of power needed by the University in an average day and can do so continuously because it is fueled by natural gas. According to measurements gathered by the Facilities Department, as of 10 p.m., 13.6 megawatts were being delivered to campus; 2.4 of which, however, still come from PSE&G.
A number of graduate student apartment complexes will remain without power because they are not connected to the cogeneration plant. The 2 Dickinson St. Co-op has emergency lighting.
But despite the widespread outages, many Nassau Street businesses were open Tuesday. The Township and the Borough asked residents in the afternoon to curtail driving to avoid hampering the rescue crews’ efforts to clean debris off the roads.
While damage in the local areas has been extensive, damage on campus has been limited mainly to the fallen trees. According to University Spokesperson Martin Mbugua, reparations will include repairing a broken fence and removing tree stumps and landscaping. Grounds staff, a division of Facilities, will determine which trees to replace, Mbugua added.
The University announced its closing and its power saving measures Tuesday by sending its fifth and sixth emergency announcements in the past three days using the Princeton Telephone and Email Notification System.
The system used, Blackboard Connect, is an integral part of the University’s PTENS system and a widely used software for delivering mass messaging nationwide.
In fact, 12 million messages were sent over Blackboard Connect on Sunday and Monday alone across the United States, according to the company’s Director of Product Marketing Travis Sowders ’97. In 2011, the system averaged 2.7 million messages a day.
Flooding has not been an issue in Princeton, according to Borough Police Captain Nick Sutter.
Schools and Princeton municipal offices will also be closed Wednesday.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/10/31/31653/