Nearly 157,000 North Jersey residents are still without power due to the unseasonably early nor'easter that blanketed the northeast this weekend, and many are likely to remain in the dark until Thursday, authorities said.
In Bergen County — one of the hardest hit regions, Governor Christie said during a press conference Monday —utility companies are working to restore power to some 83,000 residents.
Public Service Electric and Gas and Rockland Electric reported a 30 percent improvement since Sunday, but despite ongoing efforts, the restoration will take longer than usual, Lt. Dwane Razzetti of the Bergen County Office of Emergency Management said Monday. More manpower is needed to handle individual customers with short circuit issues, officials said.
"This is different from the March storm of last year ... once they get the substations back up, it will be circuits by circuits, prioritizing the nursing homes, fire and police departments and schools," Razzetti said, adding that openings for many Bergen County school districts are still up in the air.
"This is not going to be the sort of thing where everything is turned on at once," he said.
Bergen County municipalities were asked to alert OEM of their preliminary damage assessments, which include estimates for Department of Public Works employees, by Tuesday morning, Razzetti said.
Razzetti and Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan, along with staff members, held a conference call Monday from the Bergen County Public Safety Building in Mahwah to share the latest information on the cleanup effort. County officials temporarily moved their offices to Mahwah, Donovan said, adding that One Bergen Plaza in Hackensack and 327 Ridgewood Avenue in Paramus were closed due to the power failure.
Donovan said officials will make a decision late Monday night as to whether the offices will reopen Tuesday, but the election division will remain open regardless — operating on a backup generator — to assist residents in meeting the deadline for vote by mail applications.
Saddle River Park and Van Saun county parks remained closed, including the county zoo at Van Saun in Paramus, which is set to reopen Wednesday, Donovan said. The Ridgewood section of Saddle River Park will remain closed until Friday, and the Glen Rock section will not reopen until next week, she said. Overpeck County Park remained open.
A shelter set up at the FDU Rothman Center in Hackensack will remain open, she said.
Donovan also reiterated an earlier warning issued by PSE&G about trick-or-treating with downed power lines on many neighborhood streets.
"Please, be careful of those trick or treaters," Donovan said. "Downed wires they think are dead may suddenly become alive, so we need to be cautious."