SUSSEX COUNTY, NJ - Although the effects of Hurricane Sandy have simmered down, the storm left a massive devastation behind for Sussex County residents, including 55,050 JCP&L customers and 10,098 Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative members without power.
Additionally, at last count, 50 county roads are closed, said Sussex County Administrator John Eskilson.
"All residents are advised to stay inside their homes," a Reverse 9-1-1 message to The Alternative Press of Sussex County from the county, instructed. "There are downed wires and trees causing hazardous conditions. New Jersey is still under a State of Emergency."
Governor Christopher Christie tweeted a couple of hours ago, "The devastation on the Jersey Shore is some of the worst we've seen."
Christie also posted on Twitter an hour ago, approximately 200 state roads are closed.
He instructed New Jersey, as well as New York residents impacted by Hurricane Sandy, to contact FEMA at (800) 621-FEMA (3362), or www.disasterassistance.gov.
Christie also tweeted, "I want to thank the President personally for all his assistance as we recover from this storm."
At the Sussex County level, Eskilson said, "The roads are extremely dangerous. It's really dangerous to be on the road at this point."
Eskilson said current county road closures so far, are due to downed wires.
Some towns, such as Green, Sparta, and Stillwater, are experiencing 100 percent power losses.
"People have to assume they're [downed wires] are hot," Eskilson said. "It [roads] are virtually impassible."
Eskilson said this figure does not account for state road closures,or closures at the local level.
"There were several problems on Route 206 in Sandyston," he said, which is a state road.
Hopatcong Borough itself was inaccessible, and, Eskilson said, has opened up its own shelter at the high school, for borough residents.
At the current count, Eskilson said, the county shelter has 20 resident lodged there.
The Sussex County Technical School, where the shelter is set up, suffered "major roof damage," Eskilson said, although the shelter is still operational.
Throughout the county, many residents dealt with fallen trees, some coming into their homes.
In spite of the widespread power outages, and other issues, many have not sought outside municipal or county shelters.
"People in Sussex tend to tough it out," Eskilson said, reminding residents the shelters are there for those who need them.
As for the weather, though a light, cold rain is falling, Eskilson said the wind, not the rain, has been the issue. Both utility and county road crews, Eskilson said, were taken off of work assignments last night, due to the dangerous gusts, some close to 75 miles per hour. Even some municipal fire departments could not respond to calls, because of the conditions, though Eskilson said, some still proceeded at their own discretion.
At the county emergency operations center, Eskilson described the scene as, "all hands on deck," with a combination of paid employees, and volunteers, staffing operations. Some of those working, including Sussex County Sheriff's Officers, the county health officer, and members of the volunteer Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), have clocked in 15 to 20 hour shifts.
"The guys that are running this are amazing people," said Eskilson.
Even the operations center was subject to Sandy's wrath; the block building, which is the former juvenile detention center in Frankford, shook from 50 mile per hour wind gusts, during the story's height.
Of the volunteers, Eskilson said, "They were risking their lives for the people."
The county road crew, he said, has also been frustrated, from the inability to be out on the scene, and working on repairing damages.
JCP&L stated on its website, over 7,500 company personnel, contractors, and utility workers, "are engaged in the storm restoration process."
JCP&L has advised residents they can also report downed wires to their local police departments, and to never go near a downed wire.
Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative reported on its website, their office phone line has been knocked out from the storm, and to use: (888) 504-6463
until further notice, to report outages, or call the office.