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Hoboken Residents Vent Frustration After Gas Is Cut Off At Their Homes

HOBOKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Residents of Hoboken expressed their frustration Monday night at a town hall meeting with representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

As CBS 2's Derrick Dennis reported, FEMA has been red-tagging homes and shutting off the gas for days.

Ismael, of Hoboken, was still cleaning up two weeks after Superstorm Sandy's floods.

"We got lucky. We only had 20 inches of water," Ismael said.

The damage to his lower level was extensive, but his furnace and electrical service – intentionally installed 3 feet off the ground – were spared.

"All my stuff is fixtures, and furnace, water heater is all high, so we never got affected by that," Ismael said.

Ismael was lucky. The town hall meeting with residents and representatives from FEMA and the Public Service Enterprise Group – formerly the Public Service Electric & Gas Company – was filled with residents asking what happened to their gas and heat.

"I got a notice saying that they disconnected the utility because it was flooded," one resident said.

It turned out that some 15,000 homes and businesses in the flood zone in Hoboken have been red-tagged, meaning there will be no gas service until the flooded lines and any related appliances inspected for safety.

"They need to communicate with the township, and they then have to get a licensed plumber or installer, and then there's a process that we've designed that's documented and detailed in the township for them to follow," said Michale Schmid of PSEG.

PSEG and FEMA have set their focus on Hoboken because the damage there was so severe. Water rose so fast that electric systems and gas service were immediately compromised, and sandbags were of virtually no use.

If the cleanup looks and sounds daunting, Gov. Christie said that impression is absolutely right. And it applies for hundreds of thousands throughout New Jersey.

"I've been pretty straight with the fact that the rebuilding process is not going to be easy," Christie said. "It's going to be expensive. It's going to be complicated, and it's going to take time."

It may even take a year, as Hoboken digs out from under the piles of problems left in Sandy's wake.

PSEG as of Monday had 200 workers going home-to-home around Hoboken, inspecting the gas lines and ready to turn the service back on.

Hoboken residents, how are you feeling about the situation? Leave your comments below...

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