In New Jersey, Restoring Electricity A Top Concern

Many people who evacuated safely ahead of the monster storm Sandy are returning to their New Jersey homes to find devastation. Others still have homes, but they're unlivable because there's no electricity.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

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And I'm Steve Inskeep.

The recovery from Hurricane Sandy has more than one level to it. There's a long-term question: How to rebuild the region to make it more resilient in the next disaster? But before that comes a short-term crisis: millions of people still without electricity, some people who've been trapped in their homes for days, and a death toll of more than 90 people up and down the East Coast, mostly in New York and New Jersey.

We begin our coverage in Jersey, with NPR's Jeff Brady.

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: In some of the hardest-hit parts of New Jersey, residents who evacuated are returning to communities and homes damaged by the storm. But some still can't return. A mandatory evacuation remains in effect for hard-hit Atlantic City, which sits on a barrier island.

On the electricity issue, Governor Chris Christie says he's working with the White House to make sure that's a top priority.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIEREPUBLICAN, NEW JERSEY: The president also committed to getting utility crews and equipment from any place they're available in the nation and having FEMA transport those people and their equipment to this state.

BRADY: In Hoboken, New Jersey, federal authorities arrived, offering supplies and help. Ed Smith with FEMA spoke to residents at a press conference yesterday afternoon.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

ED SMITH: Over the next couple of days, we're going to look for locations and put what we call disaster recover centers throughout this city. And we're going to have community relations folks out there blanketing this city and getting information to you and from you.

BRADY: Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer praised federal authorities and had encouragement for residents in her city.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

MAYOR DAWN ZIMMER: Our community is coming together, and we're going to make it through this. We are going to make it through this.

BRADY: The primary concern here remains electricity, especially for seniors who live in high-rise buildings. Without elevators, many of them remain in their apartments, relying on others to bring food and water.

Jeff Brady, NPR News, Hoboken, New Jersey.

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