|Above: Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) questions O&R leadership on the company’s inadequate response to Winter Storm Riley and Quinn.
Today, Saturday, June 9, 2018, Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) joined a crowded meeting of the Northwest Bergen Mayors’ Association to demand answers from Orange & Rockland (O&R) President and CEO Bob Sanchez on his company’s inadequate response to the destruction caused by Winter Storm Riley and Quinn. The discussion focused on improving information sharing, coordination, and recovery efforts to improve O&R’s response for consumers and businesses.
At the Oakland Senior Center, along with mayors, council members, OEM coordinators, and first responders, Gottheimer questioned Sanchez and other O&R leaders on why so many homes remained without any power for days after the storm, why there wasn’t more planning when there were clear signs a second storm was on its way, why individual pockets of outages were tracked so poorly, and what is being done now to make sure such issues are corrected.
“It was a massive failure that thousands of North Jersey homes were without power for so long after Winter Storm Riley and Quinn. I’m deeply thankful to our mayors, first responders, crews, and emergency management coordinators, who helped bring our community together today and worked tirelessly to get the power restored back in March,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “However, these storms exposed massive problems within O&R’s communication and recovery coordination. Today, I joined Fifth District leaders in demanding answers from O&R leadership on why the storm response was so mismanaged, as well as clear plans detailing what they’re doing now to ensure such errors never happen again. We must stay on top of these companies to ensure they are being held accountable and doing everything they can to protect North Jersey families and businesses.”
At the meeting, Gottheimer was joined by chiefs of police, state and local elected officials, and emergency management coordinators, including Allendale Mayor Liz White, Midland Park Mayor Harry Shortway, Jr., Oakland Mayor Linda Schwager, Ramsey Mayor Deirdre Dillon, Saddle River Mayor Albert Kurpis, Upper Saddle River Mayor Joanne Minichetti, Upper Saddle River Police Chief Patrick Rotella, Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, and Assemblymen Bob Auth, Kevin Rooney, and Chris DePhillips. O&R representatives included President and CEO Bob Sanchez, Regional and Community Affairs Directors Tom Brizzolara and Neil Winter, Customer Service Director David Braunfotel, Project Manager Mike Pinto, and Regional and Community Affairs Manager Michelle Damiani.