WALL TOWNSHIP — The number of JCP&L customers without power in Monmouth and Ocean Counties was reduced to about 78,000 as of 4:30 p.m., the utility reported on its outage website.
The number represented substantial progress from the approximately 180,000 reported early Tuesday morning, in the way of Monday night’s severe thunderstorms. The 78,000 includes about 22 percent, or 63,682 of the utility’s customers in Monmouth County and five percent, or 14,141 of its Ocean County customers.
The utility has warned, however, that for some portion of those without power, restoration “will be a multi-day” project. Blaming the severity of Monday’s night’s storm damage “and the number of damage locations,” the utility said through its Twitter account that additional workers arriving from power companies in neighboring states on Tuesday, would be needed to fully restore power in both counties.
The utility’s Twitter message explained: “High winds in excess of 70 mph caused significant tree and equipment damage across our service area. We continue to assess damage and clear hazards as part of our efforts to safely restore customers without power…”
Wall Township appeared to have borne the brunt of the storm. Police Chief Kenneth Brown Jr. said Tuesday that the area had been hit by winds estimated at 50 to 60 miles per hour Monday evening. There were numerous trees and poles down.
Utility poles on Route 34 near Monmouth Executive Airport were knocked down and the highway was shut down. Route 34 northbound was opened to traffic again by the Tuesday morning rush hour, but southbound Route 34, south of Belmar Boulevard at the area of the airport, remained shut. The state Department of Transportation assisted with directing traffic and it was bumper to bumper along a detour on Birdsall Road Tuesday morning.
Chief Brown estimated that Wall police fielded 100 calls within the hour after the storm struck, as residents reported emergencies ranging from motor vehicle accidents to felled trees and downed electrical wires, still sparking. Assisting police were all three fire departments, EMS units and the township public works department.
Along Route 35 in Wall, some traffic lights, such as at the intersections of Route 70-34 and Allaire Road, were working Tuesday morning and the Whole Foods Market and other stores were open for business.
JCP&L was offering residents free ice and water Tuesday morning from tractor trailers at a couple dozen supermarkets in Ocean and Monmouth counties, including the Food Town on Route 35 off Sea Girt Avenue and the ShopRite at 2433 Route 34, both in Wall Township.
However, many nearby businesses along Route 35 in Wall and Sea Girt were without power and closed as of 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. Traffic signals in the area were not functioning and barriers had been had set up by Wall police to prevent vehicles from trying to use turn lanes at the intersection of Sea Girt Avenue and Route 35.
Signals at other Route 35 intersections, such as at Lakewood Road, were also knocked out. Several other intersections remained closed along Route 35, Route 138 and Route 34 with police blocking left-turning traffic with orange cones and barricades.
Power was spotty throughout Wall Tuesday morning. Some neighborhoods had been restored, but others, especially in North Wall, remained without electricity. Chief Brown said Jersey Central Power & Light [JCP&L] reported that 10,920 Wall Township residents remained without power as of 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
Chief Brown urged residents to stay off the roads if possible Tuesday. No injuries were reported during the storm, he said.
“Please keep in mind our emergency services workers who are on the road assisting the public in this storm event and limit unnecessary travel. Please slow down when approaching and move over to help provide a corridor of safety,” Wall Police Capt. Gregory Carpino said.
A statement issued by the department said: “The public is reminded to follow us on Facebook or on our website at www.wallpolice.org for updated information related to this weather event. We also urge the members of our community to sign up for the Everbridge Emergency Notification System on our website.”
In Manasquan, Police Chief Michael Bauer said Tuesday morning that the storm did not cause severe damage in the borough but fallen branches had landed on some streets, causing disruptions until they were cleared.
Some traffic signals in the borough remained out, including, as of 10:30 a.m., Main Street and Route 71; Stockton Lake Boulevard and Route 71; Sea Girt Avenue and Route 71; Broad Street and Sea Girt Avenue; Atlantic Avenue and North Main Street; and South Street and Lakewood Road.
In Belmar, police said traffic lights were out on Main Street, from 5th to 10th avenues, and Route 35 Tuesday morning. Fallen tree limbs had been cleared from most local roads by the Department of Public works.
In Bradley Beach, Police Chief Leonard Guida said there were no road closures Tuesday morning. Disruption from the Monday night storms in the borough had been “minimal considering what was transpiring around us,” the chief said.
In Brick Township, JCP&L reported that 14,543 customers, or 40.6 percent of its Brick customers remained without power as of 10 a.m.
A 9:45 a.m. post on the Brick Township police department’s Facebook page reported: “Power still out for many of our residents, but JCP&L crews are working to get it restored. Several residents getting their power back as we speak.”
Brick police also warned residents to continue to drive carefully, as traffic signals on many roads and at busy intersections were not functioning, including those along the north end of Route 70.
As of 6:45 a.m., the JCP&L was reporting 111,000 customers in Monmouth County and 45,000 in Ocean County were still awaiting restoration of power. The numbers constitute 38 percent of the customer base in Monmouth and 18 percent in Ocean, according to the utility’s online outage updates.
“We are responding to power outages in the wake of severe thunderstorms in our JCP&L service territory… If you are experiencing an outage, please report it to us by calling 888-544-4877 (888-LIGHTSS), texting OUT to 544487, or using our online form,
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy posted the following to Facebook shortly before 9 a.m. on Tuesday: “Closely monitoring outages statewide. We are down to approximately 237,000, with roughly 54,000 from PSEG and 180,000 from JCP&L. Our team at New Jersey Board of Public Utilities continues to work closely with utilities to get everyone back on the grid.
“We currently have approximately 111,000 outages in Monmouth, 45,000 in Ocean, 32,000 in Burlington, 12,000 in Mercer, 11,000 in Middlesex, and 8,000 in Camden. Every other county is at roughly 2,000 outages or less.”
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For more on this story, read next week's edition of The Ocean Star—on newsstands Friday or online in our e-Edition.