As daylight arrived Tuesday, millions of homes remained without power in the region, search and rescue efforts got underway in New Jersey, and officials began to assess the devastation, with early estimates putting damage in the tens of billions of dollars.
This morning on the Today show, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie reported that at least three people died in the Garden State as Sandy ravaged the Jersey Shore from end to end.
Television images showed that beaches and dunes had been destroyed in many areas, with beach sand washed across the streets in many shore towns.
Search and rescue crews are working in Atlantic City to get people out who stayed their overnight.
Christie described the losses as “incalculable.”
PSE&G said at least 1.2 million of its customers had lost power as of this morning.
WHYY/NewsWorks Tom McDonald was on the dawn patrol in Atlantic City, Ventor, Margate, Longport and Somers Point today. Here’s his report:
“For the most part the casinos in Atlantic City seem fine from what I can see. They used sandbags heavily. there’s some wind damage in the casinos area. Some bus shelters were blown down.
“Flooding in the south end of Atlantic City was minimal. On the north end, it was much worse, near Revel and where the boardwalk was washed away.
“Heading through Ventnor, Margate, and Longport, the wind damage is heavy.
“One woman on a beach block whom I talked to said she experienced 10 feet of water. She said it was up to within two feete of her deck, and her deck has to be 12 feet up in the air.
“There is no beach in Ventnor; water laps all the way up to the boardwalk. In Ventnor, and it’s just the same in Margart and Longport, the ocean carried beach sand right over the boardwalks onto the streets. Any street parallel to the board walk is covered in 3-to-6 inches of sand.
“At Anchorage Point, a paddle wheel boat was lifted right out of the water and is sitting on the beach.
“The road between Longport and Ocean City is not passable; telephone poles are down.
“The bridge to Ocean City is impassable. The storm lifted the rocks in the seawall right onto the highway going to the bridge. We’re talking about 500-pound boulders sitting right in the road. .
“And this is something! At Somers Point, the fishing pier off of New Jersey Avenue, it’s just sitting in the bay.
“Generally, the area is not totally deserted. There are people milling about, looking at the damage.”
The Philly scene
In Philadelphia, the city is quiet and perhaps a bit relieved, with damages so far light compared to the Shore and New York City.
Major highways are reopened, but all mass transit remains out of service. The Delaware River Port Authority reopened its spans across the Delaware to auto traffic at 4 a.m., but flooding on the Admiral Wilson Boulevard in Camden is making the Ben Franklin Bridge functionally useless.
The Scudder Falls Bridge on I-95 between Bucks County in Pa. and Mercer County in N.J., which had been closed due to downed power lines, is open again, but the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission urges extreme caution in using all of its bridges.
Landfall in New Jersey
With sustained winds of more than 80 m.p.h., Hurricane Sandy slammed into the Jersey Shore south of Atlantic City around dinnertime last night.
All day, up and down the Jersey Shore, pounding surf surged across beaches and into the streeets of shore towns. Parts of the Atlantic City and Ocean City boardwalks have broken up. According to NewsWorks partner NBC10, in many towns on the barrier islands water from the ocean has met water from the bay.
All day Monday, Christie repeatedly admonished residents who have not evacuated coastal areas. “I’m very disappointed some decided to ignore my order [to evacuate],” he said.
The governor also blamed Atlantic City’s mayor Lorenzo Langford for encouraging hundreds of people to stay in shelters on the barrier island rather than moving inland.
Outages, shelters, transit
PECO reports a record number of outages in its service territory: 585,000 customers.
Hardest hit was Bucks County, with 185,000 outages. Montgomery County has about 175,000; Delaware Couny, 86,000; Chester County, 74,000, and Philadelphia with 65,000.
The Red Cross reports that 619 people and 53 pets were in its shelters around the Philadelphia region as of midnight. The biggest group is at West Philadelphia High School, where 243 people sought shelter. Avon Grove High School in Chester County has a big group, with 58 people.
SEPTA is not sure exactly when its various servcies will be restored.
General Manager Joe Casey says the agency has a plan for what will start running first:
“it is anticipated that full service will resume on the Broad Street and Market Frankford lines first followed by bus and city trolley service. Other modes of service, regional rail, high speed line the route 100, 101 and 102 lines will be slower to return to service.”
The river drives in the city remain closed, as the Schuylkill flood watch continues.