Monday night, at 11:00 pm sharp in Jersey City, New Jersey, the lights went out and stayed off until last night at 7:43pm.  That’s three days without power or heat.  Hurricane Sandy was a massively nasty beast, and we’re just now starting the recovery process.  We are hungry and scavenging for food.  Supermarkets are closed.  Few places have power.

I learned during the blackout — by listening to my battery-powered portable radio — that if a refrigerator has been without power for more than four hours, the food must be considered rotten and thrown away because E. coli is beginning to grow.  I always thought the rule was “if it felt cold, go ahead and eat it.”  We decided to listen to the experts in Public Health and we threw out everything in our freezer and refrigerator when we awoke in the morning.

We were lucky that we kept our water and gas, so we could take hot showers and drink from the faucet in the dark.  We had lots of batteries and candles, too.  We’re part of a four block area that actually has power right now.  One block away from us in every direction are houses and businesses still in the dark.  It’s bizarre.  The key to knowing who has power and who does not is the traffic light signals — if you see green, yellow and red, the area has power.  If those lights are dark, the area is without power.

Comcast cable is currently unavailable.  When I called this morning, they told me out of 240 modems in our area, 239 were dead; the only one working was at the Jersey City Comcast Central Office, and they were using it to try to stay online and process outage reports.  The order in which Comcast services will be restored is:  Phones first, then everyone’s cable television, then the internet.  I was given an “I don’t want to say this” answer of, perhaps, this coming “Sunday” for full Comcast “Triple Play” restoration.  Based on my exploratory walk this morning, I don’t think the Comcast Central Office has power yet.  Most of the Heights are without power and all of Journal Square is also still, amazingly, in the dark.

A worker at the Journal Square PATH station told us this morning that service from Journal Square to 33rd Street in Manhattan MIGHT be ready by next Thursday — six days from now! — and that service to the World Trade Center from Journal Square would be ONE MONTH away from happening!  Let’s hope those estimates are unofficial guesses and that PATH train service will be restored much sooner than those predictions.  Busses are supposed to be running from JSQ to NYC, but timetables and reliability of the routes are muddy and unclear.

We are pretty wan and wasted and worn out, but we know it could have been much worse.  Our neighborhood has a lot of wind damage, but Sandy didn’t bring us much rain.  Unlike Hurricane Irene last year, we didn’t get any inside water damage and that is a blessing.

Our internet connection is unreliable.  I’m using my iPad as a hotspot for my main computer, but the going is molasses slow because everyone in my area is hitting the same Verizon cellphone tower — there’s no traditional wired internet working anywhere in Jersey City right now, so I will be fully back online as Comcast allows.  It took me several hours just to get this article written, uploaded and published.

We have a bunch of hot new articles that are waiting for publication.  We will return to full-blown Boles Blogs Network status soon!

114 Comments

  1. We lost all our condiments and juices and burgers and bread and tofu and soy milk — all the tasty fun stuff. So, yes, we ate a lot of dry grains and prunes and dates. We need to stock up much more on canned food. That would’ve made everything more tolerable.

    1. Are you talking about Journal square? Does all of journal square have their power back? and internet ? Been trying to contact people there since tuesday, getting worried, as I know the weather is getting colder…

      1. As of yesterday at 2pm, all of Journal Square was still without power. That means no heat and no cable or internet and such.

        I read on the news last night that PSE&G was supposed to bring back power to the rest of Jersey City by this morning.

        I will take a walk today and look around Journal Square and post an update if there is power there or not.

          1. Every day things are getting better. We had a scary first couple of days because nobody seemed to know where to start — so the utilities were in a frustrating “wait and then react” mode — now they seem to be getting everything together a bit more.

  2. I can imagine.. I’m glad to hear things are getting better. It was scary to watch even from a distance. And I know people are still suffering, and will be for a long time. Thank you for posting updates, as certain areas of NJ are not being covered on the news at all.

    1. You make an EXCELLENT point about not getting covered. The NYC radio and TV stations focus on NY. There really isn’t a voice for NJ — even though that’s where Sandy did the most damage. It’s been a frustrating task sitting here in the dark with only a battery powered radio to try to get ANY information about Jersey City and NJ because the New York radio stations tend to cut off the NJ Governor press conferences. 770 WABC did just that the day of the storm — Geraldo Rivera felt what he had to say was more important than what the NJ Gov. had to say. I finally was able to switch to 1010 WINS — after they came back on the air two days later! — to get the full, uninterrupted NJ Gov. press conferences aired throughout the day.

      1. That is very bad. I have been trying to get news on NJ from their facebook page, but that is at best, a joke. Plus nobody from their office ever replies should you try to ask them a question on there. I’m glad I found this blog. Sounds like the public has a better idea than the authorities about whats really going on right now.

        1. It is an absolute joke. PSE&G are the power company for Jersey City and many residents in NJ and they were shameful. Our mayor is furious with them. The Union City mayor is furious with them. The NJ Gov. called them out on the radio for stalling with updates on WHEN power would be restored.

          Their twitter updates were maddening:

          https://twitter.com/PSEGdelivers

          They’d tell you on Twitter “no timeframe” for getting power back — except for Nov. 5 for two days then Nov. 9 — but they were quick to re-tweet anybody in their area who had PSE&G power restored. So what’s the point? You won’t tell us when you’re turning our power on but you’ll retweet when you do? How does that help ANYONE without POWER? It only enrages us — which, I believe, is the reason they didn’t want to give us a timeframe for restoration in the first place… because then they’d actually have to deliver on it. It’s best to keep us all in the dark for as long as possible to make it easier for them from a PR perspective.

          1. Incredible..And they wonder why people get so frustrated and angry?
            It’s better to know, than to be in the dark, so to speak. And this has been going on for almost a week now. Outrageous. I was given a map over power outages in NJ. It hasnt changed at all the last few days..

          2. Yesterday, the Gov. was supposed to release a public list of all the areas in all the cities in NJ that did not have power and exactly when they would get power. I thought that was a good move. As of right now, I don’t think that list has been released as promised! The big power companies still wield a lot of power — they don’t want to be held accountable for anything!

            We knew for at least five days that Sandy was coming, and that it was going to be a mighty big storm. It doesn’t seem like critical preparations were done by the utilities in any way to proactively protect us from such an event.

    1. Healy has not been a leader in any of this. His official mayor internet homepage had ZERO information on recovering from Sandy. That’s one of the first places I visited and visiting any website on a tiny cellphone with a dying battery is a trying trick.

      Boles Blogs Network writer Gordon Davidescu asked me several times from his home in Queens if there was anything he could do for us and I couldn’t think of anything. He couldn’t get us food or power or the internet… but I realize now I should have said —

      “Gordon, I need reliable, updated information on the internet about the PATH Trains, PSE&G, and Jersey City. Find me links that are updated and copy and past and SMS me anything that looks remotely vital. No PR b.s. — real information on the ground so I know what’s going on around me that I cannot sense or see.”

      — That would have been a tremendous help, but I couldn’t think clearly enough to make that simple request. I know Gordon would have been able to find primo info for us — I just didn’t know that’s what I needed. I wasted so much cellphone battery power searching on the internet alone for any good information and I pretty much failed with every effort.

      1. It seems you did everything you could David, given the circumstances. Who knew the authorities would handle this in such a poor way. It’s easy to look back and think I should have done this or that. Next time (god forbid there’ll be a next time) you’ll know where to turn to get the right info.
        It did surprise me though, when I saw that Healy didnt show himself in public untill
        Friday..Thats 4 days after Sandy hit..

        1. It does seem everyone was surprised by this storm when they should not have been.

          I admit we were surprised. Hurricane Irene drenched our apartment, but we cleaned it up and it was over. We didn’t lose any power. It was a mop up job.

          Now we really know better. Always have 10 days of canned-food-only meals in stock at home at all times. Don’t have a lot of perishable stuff in the refrigerator that you’ll just have to throw out. Make sure you have lots of clean clothes and blankets and batteries and candles available. Prepare for the ultimate worst, not just the momentary inconvenience because you might not always have five days notice that doom in bearing down on you. The end of your world can happen in seconds.

          1. I know. I’ve seen people who ran out of water and food on tuesday.. Tells me theyre not prepared at all. And it makes me wonder if theyre ‘all there’ ..
            Even though we live in a modern world, you’re right, we need to be able to survive on our own for at least a week.
            This can happen again, and Im sure if people are better prepared, things would run a little smoother.

          2. Well, we think we’re pretty smart, but we certainly were “not all there” in preparation for Sandy. I thought, by 10:59pm Monday that we’d weathered it and were safe, and then a minute later we lost power for three days.

            We have enough food here — grains and rice — to last us for another week… but that isn’t terribly nutritious and now that everything else is “back” we know we need to pack more food variety in an emergency lockdown situation just to keep us sane and healthful and proper of mind.

          3. Nobody knew how long this would last. And I dont think anyone thought power would STILL be out in certain areas. The least they could do is to let people know.

  3. camlin —

    Thanks for that outage map — it was the bane of my life for three days! Absolutely ZERO information. Even the “table view” gives you no sense of space or time or geography of WHEN the power will be restored. It really was a terrible joke on us.

    Another thing is the PATH train. It’s a vital connection into the city from New Jersey. PATH, on their website, is saying the trains are “indefinitely suspended.” In person, they’re saying Thursday for just getting back to an NYC station. Last night, I read PATH will have an NYC connection by Monday. Why all this confusion? It hurts us. People need to get to work and make plans and try to get back to their lives — but this stonewalling of public information — “Suspended until further notice” — absolutely helps nobody!

    1. Someone from the PATH system was on the news last night, saying they didnt know how long it would take for the trains to be up and running again. When asked to guess, he said he would guess months…
      Hopefully he’s wrong.

      It helps nobody, and it breeds more frustration and anger. What do they expect?

      1. That’s just the sort of PR person I have learned to loathe the last three days. When you’re talking about life and work and vital utilities like power and phone and transportation, you need to be honest with people. Does anyone really believe the PATH train people have NO IDEA when service will resume? No! We don’t believe them! They are withholding information from us.

        It’s okay to say, “We hope for Monday” and then, on Sunday say, “because this happened, it won’t be Monday, but Tuesday.” Be real and fair — don’t say — “two weeks from today, we’ll see” because that’s cruel and just prolongs the suffering. We need real answers to these difficult problems. If we’re really “in this together” then the utilities have to be brutally honest with us so we can make proper preparations.

        1. I Absolutely agree! People have been through enough already. Their vague answers are only disappointing people more, and you dont need that after what you’ve been through.

          1. And OF COURSE they have an idea of how long its gonna take! They just dont wanna say, cos they fear the public wont like the answer.

          2. Exactly! They need to learn they cannot lead from fear or uncertainty. Just be honest. We’ll deal with that reality because we’re already dealing with a worse one in the dark!

          3. Nothing good comes from fear, and nothing good comes from uncertainty.
            Hang in there! Hopefully when this is over, and things are getting back to ‘normal’ (even though it might be a ‘new’ normal) some changes may be forced to happen.

            I gotta go now, but if you are heading to journal square later, please post an update on the power-situation there. My boyfriend lives there, and I havent heard anything since tuesday. (i know he’s alive and got plenty of water and canned food) All I know is he lost his power monday night, and cell reception on tuesday.

            Thanks for your postings, David. The best source of info Ive been able to find online on NJ since Sandy hit!

  4. UPDATE:

    Journal Square area is still without power! Shocking! No traffic lights or other power inside buildings is on and all the businesses are closed. I wonder if PATH has something to do with this? The second power is restored to the Journal Square area, people will flood the JSQ PATH station expecting the trains to be running.

    In the Jersey City Heights… we have food! Stop & Shop is open!

    Supremo food mart is open!

    Dunkin’ Donuts is open!

    After our wide-ranging walk today, I think the reason we had powered restored so quickly — only compared to the rest of the Heights… — is because a major ladder fire station is three long blocks away. We always know the fire station was there — but until today we didn’t realize we probably share the same power grid!

    1. Still no power, okay.
      Hopefully they’ll be able to restore it soon. I heard some 3 mill people are still without power.
      Thanks David, for making the trip and reporting back:)

  5. Finally managed to get in contact! :)He Managed to find a spot where his phone could get a reception. Still no cell or power in his neighbourhood like you said, but he’s doing fine. 🙂

    1. Excellent news! I’m so glad he’s okay. You should tell him to walk over to the Christ Hospital area. We have good Verizon cellphone reception here, open Comcast WiFi spots that are free to anyone right now because of Hurricane Sandy, and he can find something hot to eat, too, because lots of stores are open.

      1. Thanks, will do next time I hear from him. Nice to know places are opening up again. even if you dont have power, at least there are places you can go to to get hot food or just to get warm..

    1. Hi jonolan!

      You’re a Big Pal! Thanks for the offer! I think we’re okay now. We were able to get food and supplies today, so we’re almost all the way back on track.

      How did Sandy treat you? Everyone okay? Any water damage or power outage?

  6. UPDATE:

    Here’s a fascinating “confidential” PSE&G “fix list” by county and city and township for NJ:

    http://pseg.com/pdf/PSEG%20Workforce%20Schedule%2020121103-05-2.pdf

    That is an overwhelming document.

    Yesterday, that list was finally made public via Twitter by PSE&G — finally, an excellent and open move — but that list should have been made available to us the day after the storm so we could all make appropriate plans.

    1. Thanks for the comment, victoria.

      We’ll be leaving soon to check out the Journal Square area again.

      It looks like the more most neighborhoods come back online, there are going to be streets and other pockets that stay dark. It will be a long process and it’s good we can put out calls for help.

      1. Thanks so much David. you are so sweet. I really just want to know before I head back out there. Travel time from manhattan currently is 2 hours to journal square.

        1. Hi victoria!

          I would stay as far away from Journal Square as possible. There’s nothing there that’s open or operating. Even when power is restored, I would wait a day or two to let the mopping up and chaos clear. It’s going to be a madhouse when power comes back.

          There’s still a huge telephone pole across from the Courthouse that is broken in two and barely hanging onto the stump of its lower half. That pole has been there, untouched, and dangling, for six days.

  7. UPDATE:

    I just returned from Journal Square. The entire area is still without power from at least the Courthouse to the Post Office near the Jersey Journal and beyond the White Castle near Little India in the other direction. Everything is closed.

    I did see workers inside the JSQ Duane Reade/Walgreens working in the dark. That says to me, at least, that they are expecting power to return soon and they are prepping the store to reopen.

    The PATH station at JSQ is still closed. The person manning the station today said, “No idea” when the trains would run again and directed us to the busses to NYC. When I told the guy that, two days ago, another PATH worker in the same spot told us Thursday for NYC connection and a month for WTC — and then he looked a little drained. He said they were still working on clearing the water and testing the system for restoring power and, I think, he mumbled something about Monday. He did confirm that the PATH train stations are still without power. Many more PATH workers were visible in the station compared to two days ago. A lot more energetic activity was evident.

  8. Hi David,
    Thanks for the updates. I see Journal Square still has no power.
    Hopefully they will get it back soon! I heard one street there has power, right across from the PATH station, Pavonia ave. But that’s about it.
    Thanks again for keeping us posted:)

  9. Well I cant be sure, as Im not there, but my bf told me he saw lights in apartments on Pavonia.
    Maybe they have a generator, who knows?
    He’s doing alright. Still got lots of canned food and water left, and his workplace has power so he can charge phones and get warm there. Still sleeps with winter clothes on, but he considers himself lucky. No flooding, no damage, just waiting to get the power back.

    1. Yeah, Pavonia is a strange street — a mixture of heavy business like the PATH and the Jehovah Witness theatre a funeral home and pharmacies and labs and doctor offices and some apartments mixed in… I know if the electrical grid is on, the traffic lights and street lights are on, and the streets were dead when I checked five hours ago. It was perilous trying to cross the street.

      I do know the Courthouse has had flickering lights in some of the offices for a few days even though the rest of the area is without power, and Journal Square Plaza itself has some generator power that is operating.

      I sure hope there’s power there now with lights in apartments — a good sign that vital part of Jersey City is starting to awaken. 30.1% of Jersey City still doesn’t have power as of today. That’s such a disgrace.

  10. It sure is..
    I was told that after the NYC marathon was cancelled, they had lots of generators put in storage for many hours, instead of putting them to good use: it could have given at least 200 residents power. Eventually they did, but why wait a whole day? Doesnt make sense..
    Not that that has anything to do with NJ, but still…

    1. I think there’s a lot of confusion over the marathon and what to do with all the food and supplies. It’s all paid for, but now they’re thinking they will have to refund the $347 entrance fee to all the runners — even though the policy is “no refunds” — because the City canceled the race. I’m sure there was worry that if they had to refund all that money, they’d have to return all the food and generators and stuff to get their money back. The City of FEMA or someone likely said, “release all the marathon stuff and we’ll pay for it.” That’s probably what took a day.

  11. Youre probably right. And theyre probably doing the best they can. Everywhere.
    But I can understand people who have been sitting in the dark, not to mention the cold for almost a week, getting frustrated. There’s always two sides of every story. Some of the runners for the marathon was extremely upset it was cancelled. Then on the other side, a LOT of people would have been extremely upset if it DID run.

    1. Right! There’s no way the marathon could run. The resources were needed in other parts of the city. That said, they’re sort of forcing people back to work tomorrow even though the trains and bridges are not all open and I’m curious how they think that will all work out. The State and Cities want a return to normalcy ASAP and, I guess, the best way to do that is to just decide to do it.

      It’s odd that the Gov. of NY said that since there is so little gasoline available, more people than normal will be riding the subway and trains tomorrow and not driving their cars to work — even though all the subway lines are disrupted in some manner. On a normal day with full service, 5.2 million people ride the subway. Can you imagine the chaos of more people than that joining in the suspended transit mass of subway trains? It’s going to be ugly.

  12. Well, you summed it up perfectly: Chaos!
    Its gonna take a long time before the state is back to normal. Transportation, gasoline, roads, bridges and subways/trains closed..
    One thing is if you live close enough so you can walk to work, but so many people dont have that luxury, and theyre depending on public transportation. Buses? Do they have that many? To make up for the trains and subway not running (yet) ?

    1. Yes, I think there needs to be a couple of more days of grace for people to settle and let the transportation hubs to get working again before the “come back to work now or you start losing personal and vacation days” call goes out.

      I heard they were bringing in military busses from Washington, D.C. to push people from NJ to NYC. We’ll see. The typical train at JSQ has, let’s say, eight cars that can carry, let’s say 65 people, so that’s 500 people per train.

      Let’s say one bus can handle 65 people.

      Are there really eight busses available to leave at the same time “like a train” to carry 500 people every 10 minutes like the PATH train system can during rush hours? No way! You’ll likely have one bus leaving every 15 minutes or so and the lines will grow longer and angrier. The math just doesn’t add up at Journal Square — let alone the rest of the transportation hubs.

  13. Earthquake? What’s next?? Hope you’re all okay.
    Yes,it might be madness. Too many people and not enough buses.
    Hopefully it will all go smoother than what we might think.

  14. UPDATE:

    I just returned from the Journal Square area and it is still without power. Pavonia is a strange street that has no power near Journal Square Plaza, but a couple of blocks away, it does. I think the reason Pavonia has limited power is to feed the Deaf/Blind School and dormitory on that street located behind the courthouse.

    PATH workers stationed outside the train are dull-faced and reply, “No service until further notice.” — when asked anything about a service update. Not terribly helpful. Two workers did confirm there is still no power in the PATH train tunnels.

    As of 9:15am, lines for the busses are astronomically long. They stretch from the JSQ bus boarding area all the way around down to the corner and around the block and down the long street to the 7/11 near the Jersey Journal. It is madness and chaos that so many people have to wait so long for service, but the people in line are quiet and polite while shivering in the cold.

  15. Thanks for yet another update!
    Wow, thats one long busline..
    Youre probably right about parts of Pavonia.
    I really hope the rest of Journal square gets their power back before it really starts getting cold!
    Its been a week now.

      1. I saw that now.. arghh..day one is today.. Means 1651 will still be without power at the end of this week.. That’s not good at all. That’s still a lot of people, going on their second week.

  16. What an interesting feed of information! I, too, was on my cell phone when I read this post orginally, and wasn’t keeping up with the associated banter.
    I’m so glad you have power again so you can keep us updated. I knew you had to have been in the heart of the damaged area(s), and if not the center, certainly affected adversely.
    I was also aware the public transportation was shut down on the heels of an evacuation notice. That made no sense to me, and I wouldn’t have given the concept another thought except since I’ve been conversing with you and Gordon, I’ve learned that a fair share of NYC residents rely on public transportation. I was wondering how that was to be accomplished.
    Did I hear correctly, or was that another smudged news item?

    1. Hi Lillian!

      Good to have you here on the blog. I enjoyed talking with you on Facebook about all this, but here we can share public information.

      Yes, public transportation is the heart of everything in the Tri-State area. There are not enough parking places for people to drive a car. NYC has 8 million people living in it and there are not enough roads or parking lots to handle the mass of metal. It’s also really expensive to tend a car here. Renting a monthly parking space in Jersey City is $200 a month and to do the same in NYC proper is double or triple that price. Most of the people I know do not own a car — especially in NYC — and so we all rely on the trains and subways to get around and get stuff done. It works. It’s fast. You can get around quicker using the subway than driving a car.

      The evacuation notices were mainly for the shoreline communities and officials wanted people to move to shelters farther inland — not really a public transportation issue since most people could just walk to a shelter or take specially hired busses to get them there. Shelters are usually the biggest, strongest building in a community — like a school or a firehouse or a police station, and those public buildings stand up to the weather better than wood frame home. People with money in lower Manhattan moved a bit uptown and “sheltered” in a Times Square hotel room.

      A lot of people along the shoreline did not leave — in some of the worst flooded areas reports are that more than 50% of people stayed. Those folks didn’t want to abandon their homes to looters, Hurricane Irene last year was not that bad here, and they didn’t want to live on a cot in a school gymnasium.

      1. I can certainly relate. During tornado warnings and safe house set ups around here, I took the officials advice ONCE. And that was it. It took HOURS for the All Clear to sound, in the meantime, I had two young children that needed their sleep, as did I, for work called early the next morning.

        I decided, after being needlessly cooped up in the basement of a small town library for an unending amount of time, I’d rather chance blowing away with my house, than be subjected to such a vast amount of people in a such small space.
        Tempers were mild, people were calm, (childen were children – noisy!) but I’m a soul that requires ‘my personal space’, and THAT wasn’t it!

        How’s your food situation now? I see that you’ve ventured out on foot now – did you find anything more appetizing?

        1. A lot of people share that same sentiment, Lillian. They prefer to go down with their house then get stuck in some unfamiliar shelter. The people who tend not to leave are the very old and the extremely young. People with children usually seek shelter. I find that fascinating. I guess the responsibility of protecting a life other than your own is what pushes them away from home.

          Yes, we walk a lot. In fact, we walk everywhere and carry all our stuff home all the time. The only time we step on a train is when we can’t get to where we need to go on foot. Good urban areas are designed to be “walking neighborhoods” where you’d never have to venture out of a 10-block square to fulfill your every human need. I know several people over the age of 60 who live in Manhattan and who have NEVER, in their LIVES, ventured out of the Houston Street to 14th Street and Avenue C and 8th Avenue boundary square.

          All the supermarkets are open and stocked now, and we have re-stocked up, and we’re feeling fatter and much happier!

  17. As an aside to the library story: I got so claustrophobic, I risked the consternation of the authorities, and found a side door that wasn’t being monitored, and I and the two boys escaped before they would let the general populace leave the building. I was giddy with exitement when I arrived at my home well before anyone else in my predicament, feeling like I had just left Alcatraz or something.

  18. UPDATE:

    The most excellent news of the day just arrives in my Inbox!

    PATH Partial Service Restoration – Eff 5a Tu 11/6 – JSQ-33 ONLY (no stop at Chris or 9 St), Daily 5a-10p. http://www.panynj.gov/path

    PATH is back, baby! YAY!

    Interesting how Journal Square started to come alive… and a few hours later we get this announcement that PATH is back and running tomorrow morning!