NJ governor: Power problems worse than Irene

October 31, 2011 7:50:42 AM PDT
New Jersey remained under a state of emergency Monday, days after a fall snowstorm left behind a path of downed trees and power lines that posed a hazard to trick-or-treaters.

Gov. Chris Christie described the damage to utilities as worse than the destruction caused by Hurricane Irene.

Speaking on several radio stations Monday, Christie urged people to have patience while over 1,000 utility crews remove downed trees and repair damaged power lines.

"The reason for that was the leaves on the trees have made whole trees and huge branches come down and taken down more wires - there are more lines down than Hurricane Irene," Christie told WNYC in New York. "It's a huge challenge for everybody."

At the peak on Saturday evening, there were nearly 700,000 homes and businesses without power. By Monday morning, there were 375,000 homes without power.

Christie and his family lost power at their Mendham home on Saturday and it was restored by 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

The governor will get a progress report on repairs from utility executives and will have an update later Monday.

"I'm going to stay on top of the utility executives this morning to make sure they understand what a priority this is," the governor said.

Christie also urged parents to avoid downed power lines when they take their children out for Halloween.

Mass transit posed a problem in parts of the state that were hardest hit by the snow.

Service was suspended on NJ Transit's Morris & Essex Lines, including the Gladstone branch and the Montclair-Boonton Line.

Crews were removing downed trees and repairing damaged overhead power lines along approximately 50 miles of track, NJ Transit spokesman John Durso Jr. said.

Buses were faced with detours.

The Transportation Department had mobilized 1,200 plows and sanders to keep roads open.

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