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Thousands Without Power In New Jersey After Season's First Major Snowstorm

ANDOVER TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – The first major snowstorm of the season left thousands of people without power across the tri-state area.

By 11 p.m. Tuesday, more than 21,000 customers were still in the dark in Sussex County, New Jersey, after the weight of the snow took down power lines and trees.

Andover Township Police Chief Eric Danielson told CBS2's Meg Baker that 95% of residents were affected, even comparing the situation to Superstorm Sandy.

No one was injured, but there were multiple homes with structural damage due to power lines being ripped off by falling trees.

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Many locals had to rely on generators at home.

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(Credit: CBS2)

"We had a really thick coating of ice prior to the snow falling," said resident Wilfred Leano. "The fall was about maybe 12, 13, 14 hours straight. So we got ice underneath the snow, so everything is pretty much coated with ice and snow – very heavy on the trees."

Some businesses were open, despite not having electricity.

"We were out of power yesterday afternoon, about 1:00, 1:30. Turned out, we still have no power all through the area, pretty wiped out here. But we're open over here, we're still taking cash – cash only," liquor store manager Tony Krucinski said.

The Green Life Market on Newton-Sparta Road had to throw out all of its groceries. Workers were busy clearing snow from Christmas trees available for sale.

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Most residents have been told power will be restored by 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, but it could take five days to fully restore electricity to the area as JCP&L crews work to clear debris and fix power lines.

Power went out at the O'Leary family house Monday at 1 p.m. The whole street is still dark. The backyard is covered with massive trees that fell - only a few feet from hitting the room where they rode out the storm.

"Everybody hightailed it out of the living room and went to the kitchen, it shook the picture window and shook the ground, where it went down yesterday," Brendan O'Leary of Sparta said.

Inside where, it's 50 degrees, blankets are folded and ready for another sleepless night. Dog Dublin doesn't love the dark. The fire is burning. Brother and sister are forced to talk face-to-face.

"When everybody is under one roof and everybody safe it's all good. You can get through anything," Elene O'Leary added.

Like thousands of other families without power, The O'Leary's were initially told the power would come back on around 11:30 p.m. Now they're being told it would be as late as Saturday.

In the meantime, the fire department is open to anyone who needs a warm place to stay.

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(Credit: CBS2)

As for road conditions, the main roads have been cleared, but road closed signs remain on some local streets.

"We're attempting to open up secondary and tertiary roads to residents so they can at least get out, get something to eat, because they are without power," Danielson said.

The chief urged drivers to use caution, as traffic lights were out and trees were down across some roads.

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in seven counties, including Albany, which saw more than two feet of snow.

The storm turned deadly in Hamptonburgh, Orange County when 34-year-old David White lost control of a snowmobile and slammed into a tree on Quarry Road. State police said he was not wearing a helmet.

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