Utility crews began to make a significant dent Wednesday in the number of customers without power, as improving conditions made it possible for workers to get into a greater number of areas.
Atlantic City Electric reported more than 90,000 customers without power at 11 p.m., down almost 18,000 since 10:30 a.m. Similarly, Jersey Central Power and Light reported about 20,000 customers without power in the South Jersey portion of its coverage area. Overall, JCP&L had more than 941,000 customers without power at 5 p.m.
Atlantic City Electric said that 90 percent of all of the power would be restored on the mainland by midnight Sunday.
But it still remains to be seen when power will be fully restored to the region’s hard-hit barrier islands. Crews continued to work and fully assess the damage there Wednesday, and company officials earlier warned it could be a week or more.
Phone companies worked to repair their infrastructure as well. An AT&T spokesperson said the vast majority of their cell sites were functioning, but crews were working around the clock to assess, monitor and repair damaged equipment as quickly as possible.
Comcast announced that it was opening its Xfinity WiFi hot spots along the East Coast to anyone who needed them, whether or not they were customers.
Power outages continued to be clustered along the barrier islands.
At 11 p.m. There were more than 6,500 customers without power in Atlantic City, with another 8,000 without power in the Downbeach communities of Ventnor, Margate and Longport.
More than 20,000 customers were without power on Long Beach Island.
The storm took down multiple transmission lines, the backbones that deliver power throughout the region.
In addition to rebuilding the infrastructure, Atlantic City Electric has targeted its critical customers, which spokesman Frank Tedesco said are hospitals, sewer and water plants, police, fire and rescue crews, and nursing homes.
In Glassboro, crews from Alabama Power are helping with damage assessments.
In Cumberland County, the Office of Emergency Management asked the company to cut power to Gandys Beach and Money Island, where wires were down and arcing. It has also had problems at nearby Fortesque, but the crews had not been able to reach there earlier.
Atlantic City Electric is using the Atlantic City Race Course in Mays Landing to stage its crews and the approximately 1,000 others recruited from other companies across the South. With Hamilton Township police stationed at the gates, company officials said it expected to feed 900 people breakfast and dinner, as well as arrange transportation to and from area hotels.
At the race course, Thomas Born, an Atlantic City Electric emergency management manager, said that it was the third time that the company has staged it equipment at the track. Their temporary headquarters were a trailer used by an auction house when it auctioned off heavy equipment.
On Wednesday, crews assembled a satellite Internet link that would give it better communications with its workers in the field. As he drove through the muddy lot in his pickup truck, Born pointed to the supplies, laid out in neat piles.
“You can see all the stuff: wire, cross bars, poles,” he said.
Across the yard was a trailer belonging to Alabama Power. Other crews belonging to the energy company Entergy were out in the field. They drove from Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
About 600 linemen were on hand for the recovery, and unknown number of tree-trimming crews, he said. “Just say there’s hundreds of them.”
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