OUTAGE CAUSES TRAFFIC, CLOSURES, BEER

outage-trafficA Fair Haven police officer directed traffic Monday afternoon at a light at the Fair Haven-Little Silver border. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A malfunction at a Tinton Falls substation is believed to be the cause of yesterday’s countywide power outage, according to the Asbury Park Press.

Locally, power started being restored within 75 minutes of the outage, but many homes and businesses also went for hours more in the dark, forcing some closures and snarling traffic on the area’s main roads.

outage-traffic1Red Bank police placed a stop sign at the north end of Broad Street Monday afternoon as a long line of cars tried to get onto Front Street.(Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

The Press reports that a “fault” at the Atlantic substation caused about 71,000 customer outages, including some in Ocean County, with the highest concentrations being in the Red Bank and Middletown area, plus a few shoreline towns.

In Fair Haven, police moved swiftly to man the borough’s major roadways to direct traffic. Power went out in the area at around 4:30p.

Greater Red Bank’s power was slowly being restored around 6p, although many homes and businesses didn’t see the lights turn back on until well into the evening. Pete Joehner, a spokesman for Jersey Central Power & Light, the region’s supplier, told APP that the staggered restoration was for “safety reasons, and to not destroy other equipment.”

Phone calls to JCP&L were not returned Monday evening.

Most bars and restaurants in Red Bank stayed open during the outage, relying on iced beers and gas flames to lure customers in. Other businesses, though, called the day early, amid street chatter that a transformer in Tinton Falls blew out.

That’s why Mark Delaney closed his shop, Exotic Birds of Red Bank, around 5:30p.

“That’s a big one,” he said. “That’s not one that’s coming back in 10 minutes.”

Next door, the owners of Frozsurt sat inside with fingers crossed that power would return within a couple hours, so they wouldn’t have to throw out and later restock their supply of frozen yogurt — a costly venture. Hearing of the possibility that a transformer had blown, co-owner Daniel Natale jokingly considered throwing a cheap yogurt buffet through the night so his product wouldn’t be wasted.

On Maple Avenue, 7-11 placed a “close” sign on its door, while not too far away, on East Front Street, a clerk at Welsh Farms manually counted out change for customers buying ice and cigarettes and wrote down each purchase on a piece of paper.

While JCP&L slowly brought power back to the area, the third night of the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair went on as planned.

In the moments immediately after the outage, traffic in the area piled up and became a bit of a confounding test of roadway autonomy, as traffic lights went blank and motorists tried to negotiate the streets safely. On Broad Street in Red Bank, a multi-block stretch of northbound cars inched left and right from Broad onto Front Street, which saw its own deep line of cars span from Riverview Medical Center to Maple Avenue.

All the while, fire vehicles, unmarked police cars and ambulances blasted sirens and zoomed past the near-standstill traffic.

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While some prepped and others languished in traffic, a few of the Sea Bright locals took the outage as an opportunity to soak up the sun and relax — unplugged.

When asked how long she might sit at the bar at Donovan’s Reef, Stacy Banta (above right), said, “We’re stayin’ until the beer gets warm.”