New Jersey Storm Update: Gas Shortages, Power Still Out For Hundreds of Thousands

Gas shortages expected to last days and power could remain out for seven to ten for nearly a million homes


gonna have to put another sign up tomorrow

PSE&G says power to its remaining 700,000 power-less customers in New Jersey could take up to seven to ten days to restore. Most of the utility's 1.7 million customers lost power after Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the Jersey shore.  Another million homes serviced by other utilities in the state remained without power as of last night too. 8 million homes and businesses lost power on the East Coast after the storm, including 62 percent of New Jersey.  The loss of power is also contributing to a gas shortage. Gas stations with power, and gas, are being overwhelmed by customers*, while prices are not going up to reflect less supply and more demand, likely because station owners are fearful of the political backlash to perceived "price gouging." State troopers have been deployed as the lines are expected for several more days.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, meanwhile, has been busy being/acting in charge, increasingly the role of politicians after disasters. He even cancelled Halloween last night and rescheduled trick or treating for next Monday instead (you didn't know he had the power?) President Obama visited Christie and the state yesterday, on his last day off the campaign trail before the election on Tuesday, and vowed things would be back to normal.

But it's not politicians who will eventually get the power back on, it's the power company. From the Star-Ledger:

Since Tuesday, crews at the Newark [PSE&G] facility have been using toothbrushes to scrub equipment, including a bank of 60 battery cells that total 135 volts and are integral to the switching station's daily operations. Tiny copper plates had to be cleaned of green corrosion while control panels were stained with mud.

"All this was underwater. We just got done cleaning them up," said Steve Hammett, a PSE&G worker who had just finished cleaning the cells yesterday.

You can't have power for cities and towns without switching stations. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, nearly half of PSE&G's more than 1 million outages were the result of flooded switching stations.

*Of note too is that a lot of gas stations don't have the capability to take cards post-storm. Cash is not part of the government's primary list of emergency supplies, but an "additional" recommendation, like pet food or puzzles. Carrying cash, in fact, can be suspicious.