Thousands of NJ, PA residents still in the dark

November 1, 2011

"Initially they thought it would only be overnight but now it's going to be a few days and that's upsetting," said Beth LaRue.

LaRue is one of dozens staying at the Red Cross Emergency Shelter at the Hunterdon County Complex after her apartment building lost power.

Residents like 93-year-old Milt Smith arrived when the electricity at his house and his son's went out.

"I just wanted to get warm, so he got on the phone, hunted around and we ended up here," said Smith.

The shelter's manager says its plan is to give residents the necessities that they aren't able to get at home.

"No power and no showers, so we offer them the showers, food and bathrooms," said Marilyn Fiure.

Some residents opt to stop by the shelter during the middle of the day.

"This has been our lunchtime routine. Wife and kids come down, take a shower, grab a little lunch and then go right back to work," said Todd Rainey.

Volunteers at the shelter are also helping to care for the pets of those without power, including dogs, cats and even turtles.

"No phone, no house phone, no internet, no electric. It's cold and it's terrible," said Cindy Bartlett.

The stress, for some, is taking its toll.

"At night when it's cold and you're by yourself and you don't know how long it's going to last, it's hard," said Nadine Bergeron.

Warming stations have also been set up, including one at the Library on Route 12 where people are flocking to charge phones and use computers.

And with no heat, classes have been cancelled at two elementary schools in the area.

"I am a working mom so I have to take a day off to be home with them. It is disruptive but you have to do what you have to do," said Cheryl Dennis.

There's a possibility the electric will not be restored until the end of the week.

For now, shelters and warming stations will stay open until everyone's power is back on.

Meanwhile residents in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania are sharing a similar sentiment.

Power is still out across the much of the Lehigh Valley. Especially hard it was the Lehigh University campus.

"We have made tremendous progress but we have quite a bit still to do," said Michael Wood of PPL.

PPL has four transmission lines that feed into the school's campuses, and all were toppled by falling trees during Saturday's storm.

"The utility ways for these high voltage lines is decimated. There's a tremendous amount of damage," said Wood.

So while they are in the middle of the their first semester, Lehigh University remains a ghost town.

"Off campus apartments have power but they had to evacuate on campus housing, so everyone had to go home," said Ali Kramer, a senior at the school.

Lehigh University is not alone. Thousands of PPL customers remain without power, which impacts several traffic lights along major roads.

Meantime, three Lehigh University students on campus say since their off-campus apartments have power, they're enjoying some unexpected time off.

"I had a paper, a project, and two exams that were all pushed back so I'm fine with it. I really don't mind," said Kristen DeStefano.

PPL officials say that 90 percent of their customers should have power restored by tomorrow morning, including Lehigh University.

Everyone else should have their power back by Thursday night.

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