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In North Jersey, Still A State Of Emergency


On the first of November, it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm Renee Montagne.

Portions of the New York subway system are up and running again after being shut down for three days after Superstorm Sandy. There is, of course, a giant hole in the middle of the system. The lines stop short of Lower Manhattan, where many tunnels and stations flooded.

INSKEEP: In Lower Manhattan, the New York Stock Exchange is open again using backup generators. Some parts of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn have electricity back. Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in the New York area alone are without power.

MONTAGNE: Up and down the East Coast, utility crews have restored power to millions of people. But millions remain in the dark. Just across the Hudson River from Manhattan, the mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey is trying to get help for thousands of people stranded by flood waters.

We begin our coverage this morning there with NPR reporter Jeff Brady.

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: Outside Hoboken's City Hall, big military-green National Guard trucks are lined up. In back, some of them appear to be carrying supplies.


BRADY: The trucks come and go. Sometimes they return with people rescued from their homes.

LEE BALLIN: We voluntarily evacuated when we saw a National Guard truck rolling down our street.

BRADY: Lee Ballin just got off one of the trucks with his wife Dawn and their 18-month-old daughter.

BALLIN: You know, no power, no - our car is destroyed, but it wasn't too bad. We're just, you know, the fridge is starting to go bad and we have a little baby, so we had to do what was best and get gone.

BRADY: They're planning to stay with family for now.

The National Guard came to the rescue at Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer's request. She says an estimated 20,000 people in her city are stranded in their homes. The goal is to reach them all soon.

MAYOR DAWN ZIMMER: We're covering the whole, you know, trying as fast as we can to cover the whole Western side of the city. Hoboken has flooded - it's basically half of Hoboken - from Willow over. The entire southwest, western side, northwest of the city has been flooded.

BRADY: Zimmer says not all residents want to leave and that's fine. For them, rescuers make sure they have the food, water and other supplies they need. It could be a week or more before electricity is restored. And Zimmer says her city needs even more help. She's asking for supplies - food, drinking water, flashlights, batteries, even fuel to power those big trucks going out on rescue missions.

Meanwhile, Zimmer is suggesting residents stay out of the standing water that can still be found on many streets.

ZIMMER: It's rainwater. It's Hudson River water. It's oil. It's sewage, all mixed together. It's going to be a mess, but we're going to get it cleaned up and we're going to get through this.

BRADY: A few blocks away, Craig Caruso is cleaning some of that nasty water out of the first floor of his home. He was inside when the floodwater came and watched it rise above the window sill.

CRAIG CARUSO: It looked like you were looking through a fish tank - that's what it looked like. I thought the window was going to smash open, but it didn't. But instead the water just came in through the walls, through the plugs, through the sockets.

BRADY: Right across the street from City Hall, Khosro Ghashghaei is pumping water out onto the street.

KHOSRO GHASHGHAEI: We have a very big flood in our basement.

BRADY: Ghashghaei says residents in this seven-story building stored belongings there. Now it's a big mess made worse with polluted water. In his apartment, there's still no electricity, which means no elevator. So Ghashghaei is very happy with the floor he lives on.

GHASHGHAEI: Second floor - thank God, because the, I mean, the seventh floor people, they have to use the stairway, it's very difficult.

BRADY: Down the block, Wistar Wallace and her husband just returned from the Pocono Mountains. Getting back into town can be a little treacherous. Some streets still have water deep enough to stall a car. But Wallace says her drive back was pretty easy.

WISTAR WALLACE: It wasn't bad at all. We came our usual way, got diverted just a little bit, not a whole lot. And for the first time ever we had a parking space available right in front of our building.

BRADY: Two days in to the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, a few people are looking for reasons to be optimistic. It's not easy with billions of dollars in damage and months of recovery work ahead.

Jeff Brady, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jeff Brady is a National Desk Correspondent based in Philadelphia, where he covers energy issues and climate change. Brady helped establish NPR's environment and energy collaborative which brings together NPR and Member station reporters from across the country to cover the big stories involving the natural world.
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