Sandy Outages, Passaic River Flooding In Essex
Downed wires, fallen streets wreak havoc in towns across the county.
More than 255,000 PSE&G customers in Essex County are without power Tuesday morning, in wake of Hurricane Sandy, the hybrid super storm that barreled through the region Monday night.
As of Tuesday morning, PSE&G is reporting 1.4 million of its customers are affected by the outages, caused by unprecedented storm surges and the flooding of several substations.
Essex County has the most outages out of Hudson (228,549), Bergen (235,683), Middlesex (211,673) and Union (179,387) counties, according to PSE&G.
The widespread power outages were blamed on dangerous wind gusts and storm surges, PSE&G said, which reported flooding Monday night in substations in North Bergen (on the Hudson River), Newark (on the Passaic River) and Sewaren (on the Arthur Kill). The company had to take the stations out of service until flood water receded in order for it to assess damage. It will then have to dry out equipment, replace it and re-energize the system to restore service
"The magnitude of the flooding in contiguous areas is unprecendented," the company said in a press release. "It will be a slow, painstaking process."
Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. said he met Tuesday morning with representatives from PSE&G, which has crews working around the clock to restore power. He said PSE&G is estimating it could take up to seven days in some areas to get power back up.
Power outages and downed trees and wires continue to the plague Essex County towns, which felt the brunt of Hurricane Sandy late Monday night.
"Luckily, we didn't get the rain," said DiVincenzo. "This has been the worst storm ever. There is complete damage across the county."
More than 2.5 million people in New Jersey are without power Tuesday, the most in the East Coast, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
All of North Caldwell is without power Tuesday and all major traffic lights are out in West Caldwell.
Department of Public Works in Maplewood said clean up could take weeks, with about two-thirds of the township without power. Halloween in the town has been postponed until Friday.
Flooding was hardly a problem in most towns, except for in Newark, where five feet of water covered the city's East Ward, making it impossible for emergency vehicles to pass through. The city also experienced exploding transformers and widespread outages beginning at 8 p.m.
Meanwhile, in Livingston, a fire truck responding to a house fire at 11 p.m. rolled over, injuring five firefighters.
Hurricane Sandy, a Category 1 super storm, made landfall in Atlantic City around 8 p.m. Monday, according to AccuWeather.com.
Power outages also occurred at Codey Arena in West Orange, the designated county relief center during Hurricane Sandy; the Essex County Correctional Facility; and county hospital center. But all ran on backup generators, according to the county executive. He said 24 people sought shelter at Codey Arena Monday night.
Seton Hall University in South Orange is closed Tuesday, with pockets of town without power. Some downtown stores are open for limited business and streets have been reopened to non-emergency vehicles.
Crews in Bloomfield have been busy Tuesday morning cleaning up fallen tree branches and downed wires with an estimated 40 percent of the town powerless.
PSE&G has warned its customers of potentially long-lasting power outages in wake of Hurricane Sandy. The company's "virtual army" of more than 1,550 technicians are working around the clock to clear trees and restore power.
"PSE&G will be working around the clock to assess the damage and restore service. Given the destructive nature of this storm, however, some customers may be without service for seven or more days," said PSE&G President Ralph LaRossa in a press release. "Our urban centers were especially hard hit as a result of substation flooding. One of our first priorities is to get those stations back in service."
State and county offices, as well as most -- if not all -- Essex County school districts, are closed Tuesday.
"The county buildings, except for essential services like the sheriff's department, will remain closed Tuesday," said DiVincenzo. "It is the first time we have closed the county for two days -- and may be the first time the county has been closed for 45 years."
Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston announced on its Facebook page elective surgeries and outpatient procedures for Tuesday will be rescheduled.
Essex County Vocational Technical Schools are closed Wednesday.
With county parks and facilities closed Tuesday, Turtle Back Zoo employees took Sunday night to care for dozens of animals, including stocking food and water and preparing for potential flooding, according to the zoo's Facebook.
– Essex County Patch editors contributed to this report.
[Editor's note: This story originally published Monday at 4:15 p.m. It has since been updated with more information.]