Call it adding insult to injury.
That's Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari's reaction to utilities that continue to send bills to Superstorm Sandy victims who may not even have a home left or one they can live in.
"If you lost your home, it no longer exists," he said at the Feb. 21 Board of Freeholders meeting. "But you are still getting a bill."
Vicari said he has already spoken to Jersey Central Power and Light representatives, who have agreed to make corrections in bills sent to residents who lost their homes or are displaced.
"Adjustments will be made," he said. "We are working on that. We hear what people are saying."
Many residents who have been displaced are now actually being double billed - first for utility usage in homes they can no longer live in, and then in homes they have relocated to, Vicari said.
"Give them a credit for what they have paid for, dollar for dollar," he said.
In all fairness to utility companies, Vicari said they may not even be aware that a home was destroyed or damaged. In some areas of Ocean County, they are unable to even access gas, electric or water meters to read them and send out estimated bills instead.
"It's hard for them to determine whether a house is operational or not," Vicari said today.
Vicari said the county Department of Consumer Affairs is working on an analysis to determine the scope of the problem. More information and utility contacts should be available by early next week.
"We're trying to work it out in a spirit of cooperation," he said.
Due to the high volume of calls Vicari's office has already received since this story was posted, please e-mail his secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org and provide your name, address and the utility. This way officials can compile a list and send it on to the respective utilities.
Residents without internet access may still call Vicari's office at 732-929-2002, or the county Consumer Affairs Department at 929-2105.
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