Severe thunderstorms packing heavy rain, lightning and strong winds that gusted up to 70 mph hit the state Saturday, knocking out power to hundreds of thousands and killing two young cousins who were camping with their families when a tree fell on their tent.
Utility crews worked feverishly to restore service as temperatures rose into the mid-90s. But their efforts were greatly hampered by downed trees and power lines and the magnitude of the storm, which hit several states and darkened the homes of millions of utility customers in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Atlantic County, Vineland and other New Jersey towns and counties declared states of emergency, which restricted travel in some areas so crews could clear debris and assess damage caused by the storm. Gov. Chris Christie _ who traveled to southern Jersey with some of his Cabinet members for a briefing and tour late Saturday afternoon _ warned residents that some people may not have their power restored until late next week.
"This (storm) moved upon us very quickly," the governor said during a news conference in Egg Harbor Township. "The devastation that was caused is very significant."
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Christie said he has tasked the National Guard with delivering fuel for generators and water to the area. He also said power had been fully restored to all Atlantic City casinos and sites within the city's Tourism District.
Christie also says emergency water and fuel are being brought in to the area through the national guard. Crews are also working to get traffic lights back on both Black Horse Pike and White Horse Pike.
Power Outages (per Atlantic City Electric)
|County||Customers Without Power|
Power Outages in Delaware - 7570
Utilities warned that it could take several days for electricity to be restored to all customers, citing the widespread damage.
The storm was also blamed for the deaths of two boys, ages 2 and 7, in Salem County. They were camping at Parvin State Park in Pittsgrove with their families when a pine tree fell on their tent. The boys suffered serious injuries and died shortly afterward, authorities said. They were identified only as being from Millville and Franklin Township.
Atlantic City Electric have been working all day to restore power, though they’re not sure when power will be restored. Several uprooted trees fell on power lines throughout several areas.
“Surely this is at least a multi-day event and very likely longer,” said Vincent Maione, president of Atlantic City Electric. “First we have to assess then we have to send our crews to trim those trees and get those trees away from the lines. And then we have to send our line crews in to actually put the wires back up.”
Officials also warn residents to not trim any trees around any wires.
The power outages have closed local businesses and caused a huge need for fuel in the affected areas.
Numerous cars were lined up at one of the few gas stations still open after the storm in Egg Harbor Township. Despite the damage, residents remain hopeful.
“We’ll just keep cleaning up and hopefully the electric company gets our power on pretty soon and we’ll all move on and keep going,” said one resident.
Utility crews from other crews have joined in to help with the around the clock cleanup effort.
- Atlantic County emergency Hotline – 1-866-704-4636
- Send Us Your Storm Photos
Police also released the following message to all Vineland residents in its proclamation of a local disaster/emergency:
Mayor Robert Romano has declared a local disaster/emergency within the City of Vineland on June 30th, 2012 at 6:00am.
It is anticipated that this will be a multi-day event. Do not call 9-1-1 unless you are reporting an emergency. If you have damage to your vehicle or house from the storm, do not call the police department. Document your damage with photographs and notify your insurance company. If a public safety issue exists, call 9-1-1.
The Municipal Electric Utility is aware and working to resolve power issues as soon as possible. Please do not call the police department or electric utility for an update. At this time is would be speculative to when power will be restored.
Use extreme caution when approaching intersections that are controlled by traffic control devices. All traffic should slow to a stop and proceed with caution when clear. Police officers are working throughout the City and are manning some intersections. Traffic barrels and flares will be used to alert drivers when possible. Limit your travel for essential purposes.
Consider all wires ENERGIZED and dangerous. Even lines that are de-energized may become energized at any time.
Stay at least 10 feet away from the wire.
Electricity can travel through the ground. Therefore, a live wire touching the ground can harm you even if you don't touch the wire.
Electricity can also travel through tree limbs. Never remove tree limbs or other items that are touching or near a downed wire. Never use any object to move a downed wire.
If a broken power line should fall on your vehicle:
Stay inside the vehicle until help arrives, as your car may be energized. Warn others not to touch the vehicle and have them call for help. If you must leave the vehicle, jump as far away as possible with both feet landing on the ground at the same time. DO NOT touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time. If someone makes contact with a downed power line, don't try to rescue them because you risk becoming a victim yourself. Call 911.