- Associated Press - Monday, January 26, 2015

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey Transit shut down and Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency Monday as the storm taking aim at the Northeast dropped several inches of snow, a precursor to the up to 2 feet that was forecast to fall in some parts of the state.

Christie, who gained fame for telling residents to “get the hell off the beach” before Hurricane Irene hit the state in 2011, used softer language Monday but was no less emphatic as he urged people to stay off the roads. He closed state offices early Monday and said they will remain closed Tuesday.

“You should only go out in case of an absolute emergency or necessity,” he said. “We do not need people on the roadways. It makes it much more difficult to do our jobs. We would like to make Wednesday productive for everybody, and the only way for us to make Wednesday productive is for you to give us the opportunity to do our job on Tuesday and this evening.”

State police Superintendent Col. Joseph Fuentes declared a travel ban starting at 11 p.m. for most drivers. There are exclusions in the ban for emergency personnel, people helping with storm recovery, those operating vital businesses or providing medical care and the media. Fuentes said the ban would be revoked at daybreak if conditions allow.

Forecasters predicted the greatest accumulations in Ocean, Monmouth, Middlesex, Hudson, Bergen, Essex and Union counties.

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TRANSPORTATION SHUT DOWN:

After NJ Transit initially said that commuter train lines would be shut down until Thursday, Executive Director Veronique Hakim said Monday night that service would be restored as soon as possible after the storm.

Hakim says light rail, bus and access link service will resume when conditions permit and that commuter rail service will resume when conditions permit and federal inspections are completed.

“We understand that our customers want to resume their normal travel on our system, but with safety as our first priority, we will only do so when we can ensure that it’s safe to travel,” Hakim said. “NJ Transit will work hard to restore service as quickly as possible.”

-Service on PATH trains was to be suspended until further notice after 11 p.m. and all trans-Hudson River crossings were to be closed.

-PATCO posted special snow schedules for Monday and Tuesday online.

-Amtrak service between New York and New England was to be suspended Tuesday, and the transit agency warned of reduced frequency elsewhere on the Northeast Corridor.

-United canceled all flights in and out of Newark Liberty International on Tuesday and American Airlines said it would run a “very limited” scheduled throughout the Northeast.

-State police said abandoned and disabled vehicles on state and interstate roadways will be towed.

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UTILITIES:

John Latka, senior vice president of Public Service Electric and Gas, says heavy snow and strong winds increase the possibility of power outages. PSE&G; says it has reached out to 100 mutual assistance linemen.

Jersey Central Power and Light also has mobilized about 100 additional linemen. The utility says it will centralize restoration efforts at its Red Bank headquarters.

Utilities advise customers to report power outages and treat all downed wires as if they are electrified.

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THE COAST:

Towns along New Jersey’s coast are expected to be the hardest hit by the storm, and Jersey shore communities are watching out for flooding.

The storm is expected to cause moderate flooding in oceanfront communities from midnight to 1 a.m. Tuesday.

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PREPARING FOR THE WORST - OR A BARBECUE:

While many businesses were shortening their hours and allowing employees to leave before blizzard’s onset later Monday, supermarkets and hardware stores were doing a brisk trade by late morning as light snow fell.

Nicole Coelho, 29, a nanny from Lyndhurst, was readying to pick up her charges early from school and stocking up on macaroni and cheese, frozen pizzas and milk at a Stop & Shop in Nutley. She also was ready in case of a power outage.

“I’m going to make sure to charge up my cellphone, and I have a good book I haven’t gotten around to reading yet,” she said.

A few miles away in Clifton, cars nearly filled the parking lot at a Home Depot as people pushed shopping carts through the snow and muscled heavy bags of sand and rock salt into car trunks.

Bloomfield resident Rick Whipple, 57, a software developer, finished rolling a propane tank into the back of his car and said he was planning to work from home Monday.

Was the propane for extra heat?

“It’s so I can go home and barbecue,” Whipple said. “Seriously. I don’t stop just because there’s some snow.”


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