New Jersey Natural Gas requested 5,100 electric space heaters from FEMA to help customers, including those on Long Beach Island, affected by the system shutdown, company officials said Saturday.
Until the request is approved, nearby shelters with hot meals and cots are available at Pinelands Regional High School in Little Egg Harbor Township, Southern Regional High School in Manahawkin, and Pine Belt Arena in Toms River, the Red Cross told the utility.
After natural gas lines were shut down, residents in and around Long Beach Island got creative about their heating sources. Nearby hardware stores saw increased purchases of kerosene and propane, as well as different types of heaters.
Bob James, store manager for the Lowe’s in Manahawkin, said he has seen all types of heaters, electric, kerosene and propane, increase in sales.
“There is a limited supply (of propane), and we are having difficulty keeping up with the demand,” he said.
Home Depot also reported seeing increases of both propane and kerosene sales. In addition, camping gear such as propane-powered stoves were selling fast.
Propane can also be used as an alternate heating source, if a conversion is done.
“If you obtain a conversion kit, you could convert to propane using existing gas piping,” said Walt McCollum, owner of Walt McCollum Plumbing, Heating and Cooling, which serves Ocean County. But that depends on each individual manufacturer and would require a delay while the kit is mailed out.
“Propane is a thicker gas,” said Steven Gass, of Gass Heating and Cooling in Hazlet. He said that while those trying to substitute a gas source could try to use propane, it would probably provide only a weak flame.
Any of the options will require a willingness to pay for the conversion costs or to buy a new heating system altogether.
In an even more creative effort, LBI summer resident Alina Molina and her husband, Mariano, a mechanical engineer, are currently in their Jersey City home, which also doesn’t have power.
Mariano Molina was able to get a contractor to bring a gasoline-powered generator to their home, which they are sharing with neighbors to help power sump pumps.
“We lost electrical power for three days. In order to heat the house my husband got several pots and pans and put them on top of each other on top of the cooking gas range and they are heated to get the effect of a radiator, which incidentally works very well, and gives us appropriate heat in our basement,” Alina Molina said. “We were using landscaping solar lamps inside of the house for lighting when we did not have electricity, as well as candles and flash lights.”
For those still waiting for the natural gas, NJNG officials said there are certain requirements that will determine where service will be returned:
Residents must return to their homes, when it is safe, and the home must be habitable.
Electricity must be on.
Any furnaces, boilers or appliances exposed to flooding damage must be serviced and determined, by qualified technicians, to be safe for use.
The company continues to assess the system.
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