AROUND NJ

New Jerseyans Begin Assessing Damage from Hurricane Sandy

Gov. Chris Christie travels across the state to survey the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy with stops in Belmar and Avalon, N.J. to meet with city officials on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. (Governor's Office/Tim Larsen)

By Michelle Sartor

After Hurricane Sandy devastated many portions of New Jersey, residents have started looking at the damage and the president will be visiting the state’s hardest hit areas. Life still isn’t back to normal throughout the state with many road closures, public transportation at a standstill and many power outages. Officials warn that activities might not return to normal for a while.

Newark Airport has reopened for travelers, along with JFK in New York, but NJ Transit still has all rail and Access Link suspended until further notice. The only area currently with bus service is Camden County, which is operating on a weekday schedule. Light rail service will resume beginning at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Local roads are difficult to navigate in areas because of downed trees and power lines. Officials urged residents to keep off the roads Wednesday during the cleanup.

President Obama is expected to visit the Garden State Wednesday to survey the damage with Gov. Chris Christie. The president already has declared a major disaster in eight New Jersey counties.

Christie signed an executive order Wednesday moving Halloween festivities, including trick-or-treating, to Monday, Nov. 5 because of dangerous conditions. “I’ve taken this action to minimize additional risks to lives and the public safety as we begin the process of rebuilding and recovering from Hurricane Sandy,” Christie said in a statement. “In too many communities in our state, the damage and losses from this storm are still being sorted out, and dangerous conditions abound even as our emergency management and response officials continue their work. As governor, it is my responsibility to use all available resources of the state government to protect against the emergency created by Hurricane Sandy — postponing Halloween celebrations by five days is a common sense and necessary step to accomplish that.”

As of noon Wednesday, PSE&G reported 900,000 customers were still without power. The utility said 30 percent of those who had lost power have been restored and expects all customers will have electricity by Nov. 5. Customers without power can get free ice and water from PSE&G between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on a first come, first served basis at centers in Elizabeth, West Orange, Paramus and Burlington.

Jersey Central Power & Light still has thousands of customers in the dark, as does Atlantic City Electric.

An estimate of statewide power outages puts the number over 2 million Wednesday.

Hurricane Sandy proved deadly in New Jersey. At least eight people died in the Garden State because of the storm.

Some are still being rescued. The National Guard was evacuating people and providing food to residents of Hoboken who were stranded by flood waters. Rescue teams are also checking residences in Little Ferry for any residents still stuck in their homes because of flooding.

Registration for FEMA disaster aid begins Wednesday for residents in need.

While the southern portion of the state saw the most severe damage, it will still be days before northern New Jersey returns to normal.

Despite extensive damage, Ocean City roads are beginning to reopen.