FAIRFIELD, NJ (AP) – Labor Day turned out to be more work than fun for thousands of New Jersey residents still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Irene.

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Instead of firing up the barbeque grills and kicking back with a couple of cold ones, residents in many hard-hit towns spent their holiday sorting through ruined household items and going through bottles of bleach to clean up the mess.

In some towns, the only grills that could be seen were sitting idle, covered in dried mud from the flooding.

Fairfield resident Nino Capra, whose neighborhood was underwater last week, was hauling junk out to the curb Monday.

Capra said instead of a barbeque this year, he and his family would dine on cold pizza after their work was done.

Meanwhile, service has finally been restored to all New Jersey utility customers who lost power when Hurricane Irene roared through the state.

The storm battered the state last weekend with strong, damaging winds and heavy rains that spurred massive flooding. It also knocked out service to more than 1.5 million customers in New Jersey.

Many had service quickly restored. But thousands were without power for several days while crews worked to remove trees and repair damaged lines and substations.

The last group still without power – roughly 2,000 Jersey Central Power & Light customers who live in severely flooded areas that had previously been inaccessible – had their power restored on Sunday.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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