UPDATE, 11:30 p.m. Wednesday — The Neptune Township website has posted an item about how to apply for FEMA assistance. If you’ve suffered storm damage, click here and then scroll down to “FEMA ASSISTANCE.”
UPDATE, 10:30 p.m. Wednesday — All Neptune Township schools will be closed Thursday and Friday. All special school programs and activities have been cancelled or postponed. Before and After Care will not be available. And the Aquatic Center will be closed. Source: Neptune School District website.
UPDATE, 6:45 p.m. Wednesday — USA Today said this about our local power blackout: “An estimated 90 percent of residents in Monmouth and Ocean counties were without power, and it will be days if not weeks before the lights come back on.” The Asbury Park Press, based on company sources, reported on its website just minutes ago that JCP&L has restored power to about 160,000 customers throughout its service area but that about 940,000 are still in the dark. “The majority will be restored within the next seven days,” says the APP, but “Customers in the hardest-hit areas will take an additional seven days on top of that.” The Newark Star-Ledger quoted President Obama as saying the “top priority” in New Jersey is getting the power back on.
UPDATE, 5:10 p.m. Wednesday — Neptune Mayor Randy Bishop announced today that a township-wide curfew is in effect from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. “for all residents until further notice.” The announcement appears on the Township’s website. We’re pretty sure he meant from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
The website also reports this with regard to the power blackout: “JCP&L has advised that it will be 10 to 15 days for power restoration.” The website adds that power has started to come back in some areas, particularly West Neptune. However, it says, “this may re-energize downed wires so continue to use extreme caution.”
And finally, Governor Chris Christie has directed that Halloween celebration be rescheduled from tonight to Monday, November 5 throughout New Jersey.
By Paul Goldfinger, Mary Walton and Charles Layton
Hardly any businesses were open in the Neptune area on Wednesday due to lack of power.
This included gas stations, because the pumps don’t work without electricity.
People are growing desperate to recharge their phones and other devices, but there are very few places to do that. Because of the demand, Wegmans was allowing each person 30 minutes access to their outlets — to recharge, to email and to grab some quick news on the Internet. Some people brought power strips so they could charge all their devices at once.
In Ocean Grove, basements on Broadway are flooded two to four feet deep. Sawbucks Construction was helping people pump out the water on Wednesday morning. The flooding is particularly hard on people who live in basement apartments.
Residents in that stricken neighborhood are pitching in to help one another. One woman with a gas-powered fireplace has invited people to come in and warm up. The temperature fell into the mid-40s overnight.
It remains unclear how long the power blackout may last, but news reports and power company spokesmen do not seem optimistic. Some are saying the power could still be out over large areas by next week’s election. It was not immediately clear how the election could be conducted without electricity.
“This storm may never be duplicated in our lifetime,” Deputy Mayor Eric Houghtaling told Blogfinger in an email late Tuesday night. “The Township was well prepared and will continue nonstop until cleanup is complete.”
Houghtaling and other officials held a meeting Tuesday night at the Midtown Community School, which has been used as Neptune’s emergency operations center. He said fire safety is a major concern. The hundreds of downed trees on the western side of the Township are also a large problem.
Houghtaling said the damage in low-lying parts of Shark River Hills “is unbelievable. High tide 13 feet 2 inches above normal high tide. It has never happened before.” Committeewoman Mary Beth Jahn said the storm had lifted boats into people’s yards.
Transportation is another problem. New Jersey Transit is down for an indefinite period. AMTRAK has resumed limited service to Newark but not to New York City because of the flooded tnnnels. Nearly all bus service in New Jersey was suspended. EZ-Pass is working, but car travel is said to be problematic in some areas, in part due to lack of gasoline. Those few gas stations that were open Wednesday reportedly had enormous lines of cars.
Home Depot is one of the few stores, other than Wegmans, that was open in our area on Wednesday morning. The Township said Foodtown in Ocean Township was also open. These large stores are operating on generator power, something not possible for most smaller businesses.
One sign of a return to normalcy: the Township says it will resume regular garbage pickup on Thursday.
To read our Tuesday story on Hurricane Sandy, which includes an assessment of the major damage in Ocean Grove, click here.
Let’s cheer ourselves up with some music. Here is The Band: