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More Than 1 Million Customers In New Jersey Still Without Power

Downed wires in Cliffside Park as a result of Sandy (credit: Dev Zaveri)

Downed wires in Cliffside Park as a result of Sandy (credit: Dev Zaveri)

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Superstorm Sandy

BRICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP)  — With lower temperatures and frustration setting in, New Jersey officials pushed even harder Friday to get electricity restored to the more than 1 million customers still without power as a result of Superstorm Sandy.

For many in New Jersey, it has been days since they saw power. The utility companies are working around the clock to get the electricity flowing.

Governor Chris Christie announced that he would make public a list of when utility companies intend to restore power to each community. Even if they end up working faster or slower, he said, residents will have a sense of when they will have power restored so they can plan their lives a bit better.

PSE&G CEO Ralph Izzo said Friday that they had restored power to more than 1 million customers, but hundreds of thousands of customers still remained in the dark. The storm impacted about 1.7 million of PSE&G’s 2.2. million electric customers.

The utility estimated that nearly all customers will have power back by Friday, Nov. 9.

The power push came as the number of New Jersey deaths linked to Sandy jumped from 14 to 22, state police said, and motorists struggled to find fuel for their cars.

Atlantic City Electric said it expected to have power restored to mainland customers by late Friday and to bring homes that are not too badly damaged back online by the end of the weekend. Christie said that the company’s crews would then be able to move north to help the state’s other utility companies.

The storm surge flooded a large number of PSE&G substations along the Passaic, Hackensack, and Hudson rivers, and the Arthur Kill, disrupting service to customers in Hudson, Essex and Middlesex counties.

“The magnitude of the flooding in contiguous areas is unprecedented,” the utility said in a statement. “PSE&G had to take these stations out of service, wait for the flood waters to recede to assess the damage, dry out the equipment, replace equipment when necessary and re-energize the system to restore service. We continue to make progress on the substations affected by flood waters from the tidal surge.”

Christie said that by Friday, 8,000 workers from out of state had joined the 10,000 based here to restore power. The push comes as temperatures have dropped, with lows dipping into the 30s in many areas.

In working-class Asbury Park, residents were getting angry Friday after four days without power and no visible response from utility crews or the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which opened its first two New Jersey offices Friday and planned to roll out more over the weekend.

Businesses along Main Street were shuttered, and about three dozen people huddled outside a generator-powered fire station, using extension cords and power strips to charge their cellphones.

“This is better than wasting gas in the car trying to do it. I already ran out of gas once trying to do that,” said Joe Wilson of nearby Neptune.

Wilson, a self-employed nurse, said his family is running out of food. He usually sees 10 patients a day, but he has been unable to work since the storm because he can’t get to his appointments.

“There’s no way I can make that up,” he said.

Mike Petruno, an out-of-work handyman, said he hadn’t eaten in two days.

“Asbury needs help. It’s not a rich town,” Petruno said. “They should at least have a truck come with canned goods — at least.”

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(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)