State of emergency for 7 NJ counties
NEWARK, N.J. - February 9, 2010 -- New Jersey spent Tuesday bracing its second major snowstorm in five days as schools canceled classes, an airline canceled flights, crews tried to restore power to coastal areas and residents hoped they wouldn't lose it again.
Forecasters expected that the midweek storm would break the winter snowfall records in the southern part of the state.
At the Philadelphia Airport observation spot in nearby National Park, N.J., the snow record is 65.5 inches. After Saturday's storm, the total for the season was 56.4 inches.
In Atlantic City, the seasonal total so far was 42.8 inches, just shy of the record of 46.9 inches.
The National Weather Service said that by the time the snow stops falling late Wednesday, most parts of New Jersey would have about a foot of fresh snow.
Less was expected in Cape May County, where the snow was expected to mix with sleet and rain. The weekend's blizzard knocked out the power of most homes and businesses there.
By Tuesday afternoon, Atlantic City Electric was reporting nearly 28,000 customers remained without electric service. The emergency shelters in the county that housed more than 800 people over the weekend were mostly empty.
The resort area's population always shrinks in the winter. Cape May County spokeswoman Lenora Boninfante said it appears that many of those who left the shelters did not return to their houses, but stayed with friends and family in areas less vulnerable to the storm.
It wasn't clear how many people were making do without power.
David Read of Wildwood Crest had been without power since 5 a.m. Saturday, but was expecting it to be restored Tuesday. In the meantime, he and his wife stayed with family and a business associate. The looming storm had him fearing losing electricity again.
"We just grin and bear it, do what we have to do," Read said. "This has been a freak winter."
Storm preparations were widespread Tuesday.
Some local and county governments were hoping their suppliers could replenish their stocks of salt used to help melt ice on the roads.
But one major supplier, Baltimore-based Mid-Atlantic Salt, said the snowy winter from Virginia to New Jersey is making it impossible to meet the full salt demand.
The state Department of Transportation, meanwhile, said it had 75,000 tons of rock salt on hand - enough to deal with the anticipated storm.
The department said it began pretreating roads on Monday with a brine solution to help melt the snow. Crews were being told to prepare to work all night.
Continental Airlines, Newark Liberty International Airport's largest carrier, announced it was canceling all 400 of its flights there Wednesday, as well as several hundred more regional flights on affiliate airlines.
NJ Transit said it would cross-honor tickets on buses and trains beginning at 5 a.m. Wednesday and would keep train station waiting rooms and buildings open for extra hours through Monday.
Schools were announcing Wednesday closings, and even deliberations in a federal corruption trial in Newark were scratched for that day.
Atlantic City's casinos, already on a 3-year losing streak due largely to increased competition in neighboring states, were preparing for some more slow days.
Don Marrandino, Eastern Division president of Harrah's Entertainment, said his four Atlantic City casinos lost millions over the weekend because visitors didn't come and the company incurred extra costs for things like plowing the parking lots.
"It's horrible. Hopefully, the last one is the last big one coming," he said, referring to the midweek storm.
The New Jersey Turnpike's James Fenimore Cooper service plaza was full of people refueling with caffeine or gasoline Tuesday afternoon before they resumed their hurried trips, trying to reach destinations before the snow began falling.
Joseph Wood, 21, was taking a break from his drive by skateboarding in the parking lot. He wanted to get away from the snow at home in Springfield, Va., so he set off to visit a friend in New York City - not realizing another storm was on the way.
"It makes me feel like I'm going to be here for awhile," he said.
Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency Wednesday for seven southern New Jersey counties battered by the weekend storm. The declaration for Camden, Gloucester, Salem, Cape May, Cumberland, Ocean, Atlantic and Burlington counties allows the state to apply for federal money to help pay for storm-related costs.
Associated Press Writers Beth DeFalco in Trenton and David Porter in Newark contributed to this article.
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