Governor Christie Lifts State Of Emergency, Urges Residents To Remain Off The Roads

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Gov. Chris Christie says the winter storm that was expected to drop several inches of snow across New Jersey turned out to be an “under performer.

The state of emergency he issued Monday night for the Garden State has been lifted, but the governor still urged residents to stay off the roads so crews can continue their cleanup efforts, especially in northern Jersey.

CHECK: Photo GalleryLatest | Forecast & Alerts | Radar | School Closings | Transit | Traffic | Severe Weather Guide | Send Photos

The storm has dropped double-digit snow amounts across northern Jersey, and plow crews are working hard to clear streets and highways.

“It’s sleet and freezing rain so it’s just making things much worse,” Rockaway resident Hank Klausman told CBS2’s Andrea Grymes.

But as the governor said, the storm wasn’t bad as originally thought. Still, Christie said in an afternoon press conference they wanted to be prepared for the worst.

Snow drifts four-feet deep felt mountainous Tuesday night for Sussex County resident Christina Olerton, who tells CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock that she’s lived in Hardyston for 15 years and has not once gotten stuck clearing snow on her quad before. Now, she’s at a standstill and those big wheels won’t take her anywhere.

Some in Morris County braved the bone-chilling temperatures at Rockaway’s Hibernia Diner. Frank — clad in short sleeves — says the roads are tough even for his four-wheel-drive vehicle.

The storm kept State Police busy, responding to hundreds of stuck cars and accidents. Earlier Tuesday, parts of Rt. 80 were especially treacherous.

Central Jersey saw little snow and mostly rain fell in southern areas of the state.

“It’s a tale of three storms for New Jersey,” Christie told CBS2’s Chris Wragge and Mary Calvi early Tuesday. “In the southern part of our state you’re dealing with mostly rain, freezing rain and sleet. On the Jersey Shore this is going to be the most difficult time for us because high tide has come in and we’re going to see some moderate flooding at the shore. Then here in the northern part of that state you’re going to see a lot of snow, a lot of wind and it’s going to make clearing the roads up here in the northern part of the state even more difficult.”

The state’s Department of Transportation redeployed resources in the south for snow removal up north to deal with the changing course of the storm.

The National Weather Service cancelled a blizzard warning for coastal areas in New Jersey Tuesday morning, but a coastal flooding advisory remained in effect for much of the day.

“This is the day to stay inside, it is not the day to go out unless you absolutely have to because it’s very dangerous out there,” Christie said.

New Jersey Office Of Emergency Management Chief Captain Matt Horner warned residents to stay alert, and to “not be fooled” by the lack of snow.

“We are certainly seeing more icing conditions, and that is even more treacherous sometimes than the snow we would have been getting if the forecast had held,” Horner told CBS2.

Downed trees were causing some issues throughout Bergen County. One home in Westwood saw some damage after a tree crashed into roof, CBS2’s Raegan Medgie reported. The tree was standing in the backyard of the Park Place home before falling.

No injuries were reported and PSE&G officials responded to the scene.

Another toppled tree on Racetrack Road in Ho-Ho-Kus pulled down power wires and a transformer, causing 1,200 people to lose power.

In Montclair, roads were plowed Tuesday morning, but snow was piling up fast, CBS2’s Magdalena Doris reported.

One deli worker got started shoveling early.

“It’s a lot, it’s probably going to be going like this all day,” he said.

In Paramus, a string of plows paraded down the snowy roadway, clearing the area as totals began to pick up.

Down the shore, the storm was more about wind and flooding than significant snowfall. The waves were rocking and rolling at the Manasquan Inlet during Tuesday’s high tide. Sand was whipped by strong gusts of wind and the ocean rushed over the jetty.

“It’s actually getting worse than we thought it was going to be,” Manasquan Mayor Edward Donovan said. “We’re looking at high, now moderate flooding.”

Donovan is urging residents to get their cars to higher ground.

“We’ve already had a couple of vehicles stuck in the water and had to be towed out,” Donovan said.

On the beach, there were protective berms constructed to protect the coastline from flooding, but they were destroyed during January’s winter blast. Donovan said thanks to a beach replenishment program, the coastline should sustain Tuesday’s weather conditions.

There was moderate flooding in Manasquan on Main Street, Brielle Road, and 3rd Avenue, forcing police to shut down roads.

“We have numerous street closures,” Manasquan Fire Chief David Kircher told CBS2’s Meg Baker. “We have 40 houses on the west end of town that are without power. We have at least two or three big trees that have come down.”

He added that his department is telling people to not drive through town as they’ve already had to assist several people out of stranded cars.

Just north in Neptune Township, Rt. 35 was closed as the Shark River peaked.

The tide reached 7.8 feet in Atlantic City Tuesday morning, just short of the 8-foot threshold that can lead to major flooding. Route 322 in West Atlantic City was shutdown, as were some smaller streets around the area.

The strong northeast winds and roiling surf were expected to cause erosion at many spots.

In the Toms River section of Ortley Beach, one of the Jersey shore’s most vulnerable spots, the storm washed away about 10 percent of the man-made dune that officials pushed up against the boardwalk.

Erosion also was taking place in Atlantic City, Seaside Heights and several other shore communities. But it was difficult to immediately assess the extent of the damage until the surf receded.

In Point Pleasant Beach, a small memorial park dedicated to fishermen who lost their lives at sea was inundated by flooding from the Manasquan Inlet, with only a bronze statue of a fisherman peeking above the waves.

Residents came out to survey the damage once things started to calm down.

“It feels like tiny icicles stabbing your face,” Brianna Jakeway quipped. Her mother, Denise, was disappointed that there was no snow for them this round.

As temperatures continue to drop, the Monmouth County Sheriff warns that drivers shouldn’t venture out on slippery roads.

“In eastern Monmouth you have to look out for a lot of pooling around storm drains because slushy ice mix water is backing up on roadways,” Sheriff Shaun Golden told CBS2.

NJ TRANSIT has suspended bus service and all trains, except for the Atlantic City Rail Line, are operating on a weekend schedule. Cross-honoring is in effect. Newark light rail is operating on a Saturday schedule.

Amtrak also canceled and modified service up and down the Northeast Corridor.

PATH trains are currently operating on a normal weekday schedule, but are subject to changing weather conditions.

At one point, PSE&G was reporting about 14,000 customers without power Tuesday afternoon, while Atlantic City Electric said about 12,400 customers had no service. Jersey Central Power & Light had about 6,500 without power.

The Republican governor says most people who lost power during the storm should have it restored by Wednesday morning at the latest. He also expects that state offices will reopen on Wednesday.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

More From CBS New York

CELEBRATING 50 YEARS
Get Our Morning Briefs
Bloomberg WCBS Tri-State Business Index

Watch & Listen LIVE