New Jersey to restore most power by Saturday, governor says

Story highlights

  • More than 175,000 households in the Garden State are still in the dark.
  • "This is our Katrina," New Jersey's governor said
  • Rationing is instituted to address a gas shortage in New York City and Long Island
  • The gas crunch came after Superstorm Sandy and a nor'easter hit the area

After his state's coastline took the brunt of Superstorm Sandy, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Friday that he expects power to be almost fully restored statewide by Saturday night.

"Life will be back -- for most of New Jersey -- to normal come Sunday," he told reporters.

More than 175,000 households in the Garden State are still in the dark, and homes with saltwater electrical damage will have to be inspected by electricians before having their power restored.

"Some of those homes have already been disconnected," said Chris Eck, a spokesman Jersey Central Power & Light, the state's second largest power provider. "We can't energize the circuit until we know the system is safe."

Christie's comments came after a tour of the Jersey shore, where Superstorm Sandy ravaged homes and business.

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"Much of the iconic boardwalk is buckled and much of the piers are out to sea," he said. "The shore and boardwalk in Seaside Heights of my childhood no longer exists."

"This is our Katrina," the governor added.

    Still in the dark, frustration mounts in New York neighborhood

    To the north, some 20,000 households across New York City and Westchester County remained without power. Another 150,000 homes in Long Island and harder-hit areas of Queens, such as Rockaway Peninsula, were also in the dark after the double blow of Sandy and this week's nor'easter.

    But in an attempt to deal with persistently long gas lines, New York police started enforcing a new alternating fuel ration system on Friday. Drivers with license plates that end with a letter or an odd number could fill up Friday, while those with even numbers or zero can fill up Saturday.

    "I think it will make the lines go down," Sue Powers of Long Island told CNN affiliate NY1. "Waiting (in) line here for 8½ hours is not fun."

    Meanwhile, residents in Long Island who have been without power for 11 days expressed anger at elected officials at a rally Friday, and the politicians deftly redirected the anger at the Long Island Power Authority, charged with restoring power.

    Local and federal officials who stood to speak before residents in Oceanside, on Long Island, were met with boos and pointed questions about whether they had any power and how comfortable they were.

    "What are you doing for us?" some in the crowd shouted.

    Braving the boos, Kate Murray, presiding supervisor for the town of Hempstead, suggested residents ask themselves where the utility officials are.

    "LIPA is the only entity that can turn on your electricity. Where are they?" she said. "They won't talk to us. We call them every day; they won't give us one answer."

    Murray seemed to successfully shift the residents' cries against the politicians into chants of "Where is LIPA? Where is LIPA?"

    "LIPA has absolutely abrogated all of its duties," she said. "They should be wiped off the face of the earth."

    No one from the utility was present to address the anger. In a written statement, the company said it has more than 8,200 linemen and tree-trimming crews making progress.

    "When possible, we will restore power to customers who have been without power for the longest time," the utility said in the statement. "Your safety and well-being remain our No. 1 priority and we thank you for your continued patience during this difficult time."

    U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-New York, tried to reassure residents that all their elected officials were working around the clock on their behalf.

    "Everybody is suffering. We have to get through this together, and we will get through this together," McCarthy said.

    Meanwhile, the National Park Service announced the Statue of Liberty, which had been dark since Superstorm Sandy, was to be relit Friday.

    The National Park Foundation said the statue "will once again shine as a beacon of hope, a bright testament to the strength and resilience of the United States and the steadfast ability of our citizens to join together and rebuild in the face of adversity."

    New Jersey, where Sandy made landfall October 29, put gas rationing rules into effect last week in 12 counties.

    Cold brings fresh misery to Sandy victims

    Christie told reporters Thursday that the nor'easter, which brought cold and snow to the area, was responsible for 167,000 new outages but praised utility workers who were trying to get the lights and heat back on.

    Residents got a break from the cold weather on Friday as temperatures rose into the upper 40s and lower 50s in New England, New York and New Jersey after morning temperatures that dipped into the 30s.