Tropical Storm Isaias Left Blackouts, Debris

The makeshift outdoor Surflight Theater was destroyed by the storm. (Photo by Ocean County Scanner News)

  NEW JERSEY – Sections of Toms River and other Ocean and Monmouth communities were still without power when residents woke up on Aug. 5.

  Tropical Storm Isaias blew in with fierce wind and rain and caused quite a mess for area Department of Public Works employees and utility company workers. Downed trees, a Sprint cell tower that was toppled, property damage, tornado warnings and numerous power outages were part of what Isaias left behind.

  More than 250,000 people remained without power in both counties resulting in emergency situations and food spoiling for some customers. Gov. Phil Murphy reported that Jersey Central Power and Light was working carefully, adhering to cautions of the current coronavirus pandemic in its response to restore power to hundreds of thousands of its customers.

  JCP&L added additional safety precautions and enlisted thousands of out-of-state workers to perform the restoration work, according to the company’s president Jim Fakult during a news conference held in Jackson Township with Gov. Murphy this morning.

  Statewide, more than 937,000 people had no power this morning and it may take days before service is restored in some areas.

  JCP&L had more than 60 percent of their customers with no service at the peak of the outages and around 563,000 remained without power today.

  PSE&G has around 304,000 customers without service which marked a reduction from more than 450,000 yesterday. It might be until Monday when some customers get back their power.

  In Monmouth County, more than 70% of Howell Township’s Jersey Central Power and Light customers were without power “and crews are working hard to get the township back up and running” according to Township Councilman Thomas Russo.

  Ocean County Freeholder Virginia Haines, who chairs the county’s parks department reported this morning that several Ocean County parks were closed due to cleanup efforts while several others that had remained open had to close their bathroom facilities due to a lack of power caused by the storm.

  “This storm has left thousands of people in Ocean County without power,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari. “It’s important to take proper precautions when it comes to the food in your refrigerator and freezers.”

  The website, a federal food safety information site, states if the power goes out the rule of thumb is to keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.

  The refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if unopened. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. The site recommends that if you plan to eat refrigerated or frozen meat, poultry, fish, or eggs while they are still at safe temperatures, it is important that each item is thoroughly cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature to ensure that any foodborne bacteria that may be present are destroyed. If at any point the food was above 40º F for 2 hours or more (or 1 hour if temperatures are above 90 º F) – discard it.

Photo by Jason Allentoff

  Vicari, who is liaison to the Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs, also suggested residents look into filing a claim with their insurance company over the loss of the food. “As we continue to work through the coronavirus pandemic, and with so many people unemployed because of it, I know that the thought of throwing away food is of great concern. The best rule to go by is: when in doubt, throw it out.”

  According to Allstate Insurance, homeowner’s insurance may offer reimbursement for food lost during a power outage in some cases. However, it’s important to understand what your homeowner’s insurance policy does and does not cover when it comes to spoiled food.

  JCP&L has activated its retail water and ice program. For those customers remaining without power for 24 hours or more, JCP&L is offering free water and ice at the following locations in Ocean County:

  • Perlmart Shop Rite 427, 429 Atlantic City Blvd. (Route 9), Store 663 Bayville
  • Perlmart Shop Rite, 328 Route 9, Store 655, Lanoka Harbor
  • Perlmart Shop Rite, 1001Route 70W, Store 659, Manchester
  • Acme Supermarkets, Route 35 & Washington, Ortley Beach/Seaside Heights  
  • Perlmart Shop Rite, 860 Fischer Blvd, Store 656, Toms River
  • Saker ShopRites, Inc., 2 Route 37 West, Toms River
  • Perlmart Shop Rite, 100 Town Center, Store 665, Waretown

  JCP&L customers in Howell without power for 24 hours or more can get free water and ice at the Saker ShopRite in Howell and a water refill station has been created for those out of power and rely on well water.

  Howell’s Councilman Russo also posted this morning that cooling stations are available at Town Hall in the main meeting room, Ardena Baptist Church on Route 524 and the Howell Senior Center for seniors only.

  Potable water is also available at the Adelphia Firehouse, Town Hall in the rear parking lot and the Department of Public Works building

  Russo reminded residents of his community that “if you see unsafe conditions call 1-888-544-4877. If there is an emergency call 911. Many of you may need electricity for your medical conditions so if you are in an emergency call 911.”