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Following Sandy, Gov. Christie Says It's Now Time To Act And Rebuild Lives

KENILWORTH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared Thursday that his state is in triage and attack phase three days after superstorm Sandy destroyed homes, transportation networks and lives.

"Monday was the time for us to hunker down. The light of day on Tuesday was a time for us to feel sad and sorrowful. Wednesday was to begin to plan and Thursday starting to act. And that's what's we're doing today," Christie said.

The governor said the focus has now shifted to opening schools, restoring power and getting transportation infrastructure back on track.

Christie said that progress has been made with regard to the power situation. He said that 1,783,000 people were without power, down from 2.7 customers affected at the height of the situation.

Christie said that he had met with the CEOs of PSE&G, JCP&L and Atlantic City Electric to ensure they gave the Federal Emergency Management Agency a list of personnel they needed to get power restored much sooner than the estimates the utilities have publicly announced.

"Power will be restored much more quickly than it would have been otherwise," Christie said.

Jersey Central Power & Light said it had restored service to 30 percent of its affected customers. It  estimates most of the remaining households -- more than 800,000 -- will be restored by Wednesday. It may another week for some in the hardest hit areas.

Atlantic City Electric was expected to get all power back by Friday night on the mainland.  Christie also said that a number of crews were being sent by governors of other states, including Alabama, Mississippi, Massachusetts and Ohio.

Public Service Electric & Gas expects to reconnect 780,000 customers within a week to 10 days.

"Hurricane Irene was the largest storm in our history and that was 800,000 customers out," PSE&G spokesman Ralph Izzo said. "In the past two days we've restored the equivalent of Hurricane Irene and we have another Hurricane Irene to go."

As far as transportation is concerned, Christie said that 25 percent of NJ TRANSIT rail cars have been damaged and will need to be assessed if they are workable or need to be replaced.

WEB EXTRA: NJ Transit Resumes Northern, Central Southern Bus Service

He said the Department of Transportation has begun the process of replacing those rail cars following an order from President Barack Obama.

Christie also said the New Jersey coast was particularly hard hit and that Newark Penn Station and Hoboken terminals were both flooded.

In Monmouth Beach, front-end loaders are plowing the sand on Ocean Avenue as though it is snow.

"All I know is the water blew open my doors," ocean-front homeowner James Costabile told WCBS 880's Peter Haskell. "I need everything; new plumbing, new heat, hot water."

Costabile said four feet of water inundated his home.

WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reports


Other Monmouth Beach residents told Haskell the water line is still visible on the walls of their home.

"Four, five feet," Monmouth Beach resident Lloyd Sabatelli told Haskell. "Serious stuff."

"Like a bomb went off. It was just debris and mud and muck everywhere from the river overflowing into the town," Sabatelli said.

Monmouth Beach is bounded by the ocean on one side and the Shrewsbury River on the other.

Parts of northern New Jersey continued to clean up the mess and devastation left by superstorm Sandy.

Generators and tree chippers were providing the soundtrack Thursday in neighborhoods across Union County, WCBS 880's Jim Smith reported.

WCBS 880's Jim Smith reports


"I'm doing OK today. Come back tomorrow morning, it might be a different ballgame," resident Bill Kissler told Smith.

"You take a look around this neighborhood in Kenilworth, there's severe, severe damages," resident Roger Murphy added.

Downed trees, utility poles and wires tangled together in dangerous piles across the neighborhood. Transformers were down, wiping out power to thousands.

Murphy's generator was powering his furnace for heat, but his concern was a potential gas shortage and long lines just to fill up the tank to keep the generator running.

"Siphoning out of the cars was the next step," Murphy told Smith.

Officials said more than 80 percent of New Jersey gas stations were unable to sell gas due to power outages, while the stations that are open have huge lines.

Some residents said they hope the power comes back on soon.

"A few days I think people can deal with, but when we start getting to maybe a week or more it's going to be very difficult," another Kenilworth resident told Smith.

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