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AFTERMATH: New Jersey Recovers After Hurricane Sandy

FEMA offices open; power returns; gas is being rationed; and a weary but hopeful population returns home

Storm-weary residents will try to return to their routines this weekend, picking up the pieces of their broken homes and battered boardwalks as they recover from the first-ever recorded hurricane to directly hit New Jersey.

They face a future shaped by Hurricane Sandy after the "superstorm" washed away boardwalks in Belmar and Spring Lake; sent amusement rides, gazebos and beachfront businesses out to sea; flooded Hoboken streets; felled trees throughout the state; and still leaves millions in the dark.

They also face sustained, painful three-hour gas lines that the Christie administration hopes to alleviate through gas rationing, and others hope will end once power fully returns. JCP&L reported 703,691 of its nearly 1.1 million customers remained in the dark as of about 4:45 p.m. on Friday, according to its outage map.

A system of gas dispensation is set to begin Saturday, affecting residents of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Morris, Monmouth, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren. Plates containing an even number, as their final numerical digit, can fill up on even numbered days of the month. Plates containing an odd number as their final numerical digit can fill up on odd numbered days of the month.

Specialized or vanity plates, or those not displaying any numbers, will be considered odd-numbered plates.

State Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, R Monmouth, plans to introduce legislation requiring gas stations to have emergency power generators on standby in case of power outages, such as those caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Handlin said towns are forced to place their "already-stretched police at stations to handle physical altercations" over gasoline.

Some of these lines, she said, are over a mile long, and include not only cars, but people carrying empty gas cans wanting to fill up the empty tanks in their generators and power tools. "This situation is not only adding to the economic devastation from the storm, but [it's] putting lives in danger," she said.

At the Jersey Shore, gone are some of the fabled seaside haunts, such as Donovan's Reef in Sea Bright; as well as some of its iconic figures, such as the roller coaster in Seaside Heights, and chunks of the Martell's pier in Point Beach, as well as the fishing pier in Ocean Grove.

The viciousness of this storm left so many homes in ruins, forcing police officers and national guardsmen and women to stand watch over the state's bucolic beach communities. Entering parts of Sea Bright and Long Beach Island required an escort.

On Thursday and Friday, aerial video and photography of Mantoloking continued to show the ocean breaching into the Barnegat Bay, splitting the barrier island in half. Amid reports of "major gas leaks," following Sandy, officials with New Jersey Natural Gas announced they are shutting off the natural gas infrastructure that serves Long Beach Island, as well as other hurricane-damaged barrier islands south of Point Pleasant Beach to Seaside Heights.

FEMA offices are soon supposed to open in every county affected by the storm. In Brick, Governor Christie appeared Friday afternoon to help open a FEMA Storm Relief Center at Drum Point Elementary school.

The FEMA site is minutes away from some of the township neighborhoods hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy, including the Shore Acres, Cherry Quay and Baywood sections.

“The destruction the lieutenant governor and I have seen … is just unfathomable,” said Christie. “I’ve driven on Route 35 since I was coming to the shore with my parents as a young child. And you just can’t recognize the place. It is heartbreaking."

Some communities that were nearly washed away by Hurricane Sandy finally began to allow people to come back Friday. Their return, in many cases, was far from joyous.

Stafford Township ran shuttle buses from select points for residents to get into Beach Haven West, recover what they could carry and get out. Debris was strewn in the roadways, with possible wires in the road. There were boats and personal watercraft everywhere.

On the bayfront at Jennifer Lane, the Coyne family was piling up the contents of their first floor at the curb. Dozens of large trash bags, deck furniture and exercise equipment all were going out. They also lost their two cars.

Mike Coyne said that, by the time his wife and daughter went to leave, it was too late to get out. "Then water came in and was to the ceiling of my ground level," he said.

"When Sandy came in, I saw it come right at me," he said pointing to the southeast.

an electrician who recently moved there from Brooklyn agreed it was important to have casinos reopen, but he didn't want to see the return of the industry come on the backs of the city's residents and taxpayers.

"I haven't had power since Tuesday," said the Atlantic City resident. "We still have no lights. ... Are we going to be put on the backburner? I understand they want the casinos to reopen, but what about the people who live here?"

Will November 03, 2012 at 11:26 AM
Although my heart truly bleeds for all suffering from the aftermath of Sandy, I am finding it very difficult to understand why we are not using this medium to communicate power restore status within Fort Lee.
Nitin November 03, 2012 at 12:29 PM
SB Patch Editors - you seem to have abondened coverage of Power outage. Sad Atleast CNN is covering it prominently
Rita Rooney November 03, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Does anyone know if you can drive over bridge into seaside? I am not looking to stay there but was wondering if anyone happened to know if vehicles are allowed over bridge at this time? Any info appreciated!
Jeff November 03, 2012 at 12:46 PM
No one really cares about fort lee it seems. Most towns already have majority of power back but not fort lee. As long as main st and the bridge have power, the town doesn't really care about the residents. Too bad the election for mayor wasn't coming up because I know who not to vote for. Spoke to a pseg worker and when I asked him why no one is working here his response was politics. If your politician doesn't have pull you are not going to get help. so I guess the mayor either doesn't no anyone or doesn't care. I don't even see damage near me to the power lines. Its as if we have been forgotten. I have been through other nearby towns and they have lots of power. Fort lee sucks can't wait to move.
Jeanette November 03, 2012 at 01:22 PM
How is there hasn't been a bit of improvement in Fort Lee? It's disgraceful. There is no information on the status of power and Mayor Sokolich is not to be found and hasn't said a word to the community. I know who I won't be voting for in the next election for mayor. The response, if you can call it that, has been pathetic.
NancyT November 03, 2012 at 01:27 PM
There is still no civilian access to the entire island. Only official traffic. My family has homes in Seaside and Lavallette and cannot get in yet.
Denobin November 03, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Mandatory evacuation of Seaside Heights last night. Star-Ledger reporting that evacuation for some towns may stretch into months. Sorry it isn't better news. http://videos.nj.com/star-ledger/2012/11/seaside_to_mantoloking_barrier.html
Kelly November 03, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Hopatcong has no power either. I can't even get insurance to look at my house. Will take months to fix.
Jane November 03, 2012 at 03:43 PM
I don't even see trucks in town...
nathan November 03, 2012 at 05:13 PM
I don't understand. If only 25% of the gas stations have power, why are they running out of gas? Big Chris should have a full tanker lined up at every operating station, they should never run out of gas.
Shirley November 03, 2012 at 05:26 PM
As I understand from an NPR story this morning, one oil company - it may be Gulf - is trucking gas to NJ stations, not necessarily its own, to refill their tanks, provided the stations have the ability to pump gas.
Jennifer November 03, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Smull ave in caldwell just got power....
sockman November 03, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Part of the issue is panic buying... nobody wants to run out, whether or not they need it. ... trucks are rolling form SNJ... They have been leaving the storage farms of West Deptford like crazy... Also... There are like 10 barges in the Del river waiting to either unload crude or load refined product at the Philly refineries. also saw 40 elec trucks heading north on i-295. I am sure that it is tough where you are... but hopefully soon it will get better
Nancy in NY November 03, 2012 at 08:27 PM
I live in upstate NY. I'm looking at your paper because my brother lives there. We were flooded last year by Irene/Lee. We are all praying for you, donating $, & collecting the supplies we bought, but didn't need, for Sandy. Please stay strong & help each other. It will get better.
Chatham Resident Too November 03, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Thank You Nancy. Every thought for our friends at the Shore is appreciated.
Katie November 04, 2012 at 01:35 AM
You can't get into Seaside, but I'm hoping in a week or two. Note that once they open it up, they will be allowing 2 people per address into the area. At the moment, they are also requiring a photo ID with that address. (Hoping that this will change as my elderly mom, who's house I am concerned over will not be going in until we can access the damage.) I found this picture which shows a tad south of Point pleasant to a tad north of lavalette. http://nbianj.org/images/oct31bC0740430w400130n.jpg if you download it you will be able to zoom in pretty close. I would try to find a similar one on the town websites.
Sick_of_Warren November 04, 2012 at 01:59 AM
What a hopeless town, county and state we live in. After 6 days and thousands of workers, the trees and power lines are still on the streets. This in a country that is the wealthiest and wants to be a role model for the world. All Warren township officials starting from the mayor to the clerk are powerless and selfish, corrupt officials. I can understand 2-3 days is normal but 6 days is just unacceptable. From the PSEG workforce schedule, Warren is not on their ETR until 11/6. So it will be 10 days before warren residents see's power. Is this really acceptable? For a town, with one of the highest taxes, who is answerable? I think it starts with the mayor and township officials who didn't pressurize the government office and utility companies. They can't expect us to fight their battles !!! Very disappointed.
Ryan P. November 04, 2012 at 02:22 AM
@Mr. Umrichin: Your pomposity speaks volumes regarding your lack of class and character. Smugness is always an unattractive quality. You wear it upon yourself no differently. Some individuals may not be able to afford generators. Others resent individuals such as yourself placing such a strain upon the gasoline supply by feverishly filling up your little red gas containers so you can be nice and toasty in all of your self-righteousness.. You are helping to choke the gasoline supply to death in this state by diverting scant resources that ought to be going to vehicles during the crisis; nit so you can sit from your perch and bloviate about matters you know absolutely nothing about. The government is not responsible to take care of me but until the leviathan releases its regulatory death grip over the state's utility companies then yes they do have an obligation to see that I don't have to sit beside my chronically ill Mother for five days, six nights and counting in the cold darkness. I would prefer to reach out to a quasi-private entity such as The Red Cross actually but apparently my Township's Mayor has no interest in asking for outside, non-profit resources in our damaged town. You certainly are not 'Jersey Strong'. You are petty and weak. I would rather dwell in the cold and darkness rather than having to sit in your warm home and endure your dark heart.
Terry November 04, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Did P.U.'s smug, condescending attitude come with his generator or did that cost extra?
Paul Umrichin November 04, 2012 at 02:55 AM
Ryan.. you pegged my dark heart right. As soon as I made my home secure for my 4 children, 70 year old mother in law, 2 dogs and a cat I went out into the storm during its peak. While you were tending to your mother I was voluteering to bring generators to people who needed their oxygen monitors working, helped to set up the local shelter for evacuated victims, shuttled residents to the same, helped bring blankets and food to seniors, made sure a young disabled lady had her special powered bed working so that she didn't have to sit in her wheelchair during the outage, as well as worked my full time blue collar job this week. This included having to deal with the panic on gas. Many people didn't need to rush to the pumps and some were even sitting in line waiting but still had a 3/4 of a tank left. My mayor has asked for outside help and unfortunately for you and many others the Red Cross said that they are centralizing their operation for the entire county to one location. He was out in the hurricane unloading cots and blankets for the temporary shelter with other volunteers doing for his community. The gas panic (not crisis) - There was a major pipeline that needed to be checked for damage and deemed safe before they could unload fuel from barges. If Jersey Strong is whining for someone to help me then your damn straight I definitely am not that. Must be that military upbringing that makes me smarter not stronger.
Paul Umrichin November 04, 2012 at 03:10 AM
It was part of the deluxe package... I could have chosen the ignorance package but it seems you beat me to it.
Terry November 04, 2012 at 03:14 AM
Please inform, oh wise one, do you suffer shoulder pain as a consequence of constantly patting yourself on the back?
Paul Umrichin November 04, 2012 at 03:20 AM
A hot shower, ben gay and an aspirin take the pain right away
Yaofeng Chen November 04, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Reading all these comments I have a feeling many local politcal heads are going to fall this election, not by their own fault but because of Sandy. We are so short sided and knee jerk react. People lose sight of the fact Sandy is unprecedanted over the past 100 years. It simply overwhelms the resources of what the utilities companies can deal with. The local governments actually have very little to do with restoring power which seems to be the source of frustration for most. Imagine Sandy is a 500 year occurrence. We should be thankful the majority of us only suffer the minor inconvenience of not having power, cell phone and cable signal for a week. Has anyone of you been to New Orleans post Katrina? I have. Six months after Katrina hit New Orleans there are still cars pile under highway bridges. Many neighborhoods remained ghost towns being completely dark after sun down. I've seen large fishing boats still parked in the middle of the street in the St. Charles section. Yes. That was six months after Katrina, something I thought unbelievable to have witnessed in America. Although I must say psychology played a role in the slow reconstruction post Katrina. Many people weren't sure the neighborhood they used to live is coming back so they did not know if it is worthwhile to put more money into rebuilding the house which got destroyed by the hurricane. We should feel very lucky we are not in that situation. This is something many NJ shore residents are thinking now.
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