Power crews began tackling some of the worst outage problems Tuesday morning as high winds from the fleeing storm played havoc with recovery.

By 3 p.m., Atlantic City Electric was reporting 185,709 customers without power, up several thousand from noon.

Hardest hit were the shore communities, largely cut off at the height of Hurricane Sandy.

The utility’s outage map said more than 20,000 customers were without power on Long Beach Island at 3 p.m. Another 17,000 customers were without power in Atlantic City, while 16,350 customers in the neighboring Downbeach communities of Ventnor, Margate and Longport remained in the dark. Nearly 9,600 customers in Ocean City were without power.

On the mainland, Little Egg Harbor Township and Tuckerton reported more than 13,000 customers without power. Absecon reported 12,500 without power.

“Right now, the crews are out assessing the situation. Once the assessment is over they will create a restoration plan,” Atlantic City Electric spokesman Frank Tedesco said. He said crews were handling emergencies on Tuesday but would begin to tackle other outages when it was safe to do so.

The utility opened an emergency response office Tuesday in its Mays Landing headquarters, and held morning and afternoon conference calls with mayors and local emergency officials regarding the latest issues.

Vineland Municipal Utilities, which operates the city’s electrical system, reported no outages. There were scattered outages due to wind, and those may continue, the utility said through the Facebook social media site.

Jersey Central Power and Light reported 21,302 of its southern New Jersey customers without power. The utility, which covers parts of central and northern New Jersey, reported 974,906 total customers without power.

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