TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Garden State continues to make strides in getting back to normal more than a week after superstorm Sandy.
“Progress in our return to normalcy is defined by power being back on, your ability to put gas in your car, your children back at school, your roads being clear, and having access to clean water in your home and your business,” Gov. Chris Christie said.
1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports
State officials are trying to focus on getting children back in the classroom. More than half of the state’s schools remain closed because of storm damage, 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reported.
“We have to find a way to get school open,” State Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf said. “It is Herculean. The challenges include power, getting not only fuel to heat the buildings but for the bus fleet.”
With Election Day slated to be anything but normal in the wake of Sandy, New Jerseyans whose homes are destroyed or still without power have been managing to get out and vote.
The state has contingency plans in place so voters displaced by the storm can cast their ballots.
In Bergen County, residents of Moonachie showed up to a vocational-technical school to vote in the same gym where many were evacuated a week earlier. At the shore, voters in Point Pleasant expressed relief and even elation at being able to vote.
Not everyone was in a voting mindset, however.
In Hoboken, 76-year-old retired mechanic Anthony Morrone says he hasn’t missed a vote since coming to the U.S. in the late 1960s. But he says there’s too much cleanup work to do.
Christie said fewer than 100 of the state’s 3,000 polling sites were compromised and had to be moved because of the storm.
Polls close at 8 p.m.
Meanwhile, an approaching nor’easter has led to a mandatory evacuation order for low-lying waterfront homes in Brick Township.
Speaking at his Superstorm Sandy briefing in Westwood on Tuesday, Christie said he believes flooding could be a problem with the nor’easter. But the governor doesn’t believe there will be a storm surge like there was with Sandy.
Christie said he is worried because Sandy has compromised the coastline along with buildings and trees.
The storm threatens to bring snow to parts of New Jersey and that could mean another cold night for 566,000 homes and businesses that still are without electricity.
Westwood resident Susan Upchurch said Tuesday that there have been about a half dozen power outages in the past couple of years. So, she’s used to life on a generator.
WCBS 880′s Paul Murnane: The Lights Are Still Out For Many
“We’ve had electricians hook up the electrical so we could plug our generators into our furnaces,” she told WCBS 880 reporter Paul Murnane. “We run it for as long as we possibly can to get the house to an unbearably hot or as hot as it will get and then we shut things down to conserve.”
Westwood Mayor John Birkner says powerless pockets persist.
“It’s refreshing that we’re getting big larger segments of the population back up to speed,” he said. “It’s very difficult for those small areas.”
Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan said there will be time later to criticize PSE&G and Orange & Rockland, but clearly information and communication need to improve.
“They put out something where it says, you know, ‘We’re going to be working in this town,’” Donovan said. “People interpret it to mean all the power in that were going to be restored.”
Nebraska Public Power District said 16 of its line technicians will join efforts to restore power in New Jersey. Other Nebraska utility workers have also joined the emergency efforts, as well as thousands more from all over the country.
1010 WINS’ John Montone reports
Limited PATH service resumed Tuesday and NJ Transit has modified its emergency plans to try to ease the overcrowding that slowed the return to work on Monday.
Eight emergency park-and-ride bus lots have been consolidated to four in Ramsey, MetLife Stadium, PNC Arts Center and Liberty Science Center. Buses that were used in emergency service in Bridgewater, Woodbridge, Willowbrook Mall and Newark airport have been redistributed to alleviate crowding. Port Jervis trains are running into Hoboken, but will not stop at Secaucus Junction.
Tuesday is an even day for gasoline in the 12 counties where there is rationing. Christie ordered the odd-even rationing system last Friday.
“We are seeing positive results from our odd-even system,” Christie said. “I was reluctant to go to the odd-even system until I was convinced that we had to. We went to it and I will tell you that I think for the most part it has significantly diminished lines across the state if not eliminated them.”
The governor stressed the state does not have a fuel shortage and that power has been restored at all refineries and pipelines.
“You should not panic,” Christie said. “Don’t run at six o’clock in the morning to get in line at the gas station because you’re afraid they’re going to run out of gas. We are not running out of gas.”
(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.)