Hurricane Sandy Aftermath: New Jersey Power Outages and Flooding Updates at Christie Press Conference

Thousands of residents of New Jersey are stranded in their homes and without power after last night’s storm surge broke levees, raised sea levels, and flooded much of the state’s coastal area after Hurricane Sandy made direct landfall.

Governor Chris Christie, in a 10:00am press conference, said the flood damage and loss of power “was beyond anything I thought I’d ever see — terrible.” Christie urged residents to be patient and “let the waters recede” before attempting any non-emergency travel.

The governor said that 2012’s Hurricane Irene took nine to ten days before New Jersey’s infrastructure could be back online. Given that twice as many households were affected in the recent storm, Christie projected that recovery will take significantly longer.

According to his press conference, it was estimated that a full damage assessment would take 24 to48 hours, but the widespread flood damage is already apparent. Flooded roadways caused “173 incidents on the highways.” A tidal surge next to Highway Twelve caused freight cars to be lifted off their tracks and scattered onto the New Jersey Turnpike, and large sections of rail tracks were entirely washed away by coastal flooding.

“Sea Side Park is completely under water,” said Christie, and the Jersey Shore Barrier Islands are so flooded planes cannot land to tour. According to NBC NY, in Hackensack New Jersey, a broken levee caused a five-foot wall of water to flood residential streets lifting cars, and even homes, off their foundations.

The most pressing issues are search and rescue for stranded citizens, and ensuring the safety of the drinking water supply. Christie told reporters that thirteen wastewater treatment centers were experiencing “operational issues because of flooding and loss of power.”

For those in the New York coastal area, flood alerts are still in affect from The National Weather Service until 3:00pm. Residents are advised to move the highest floor in their building but to not try to drive out of the area.