Newark is still in a state of emergency following Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Cory Booker said Thursday.
More than half of Newark is still without power, creating a host of potentially dangerous situations. Two teenagers died Wednesday night of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning in a home that was being powered by a generator, police said.
"The principle concern of our city right now is the safety and security of our residents," said Booker. "We are going to be relying on the proactive, common sense commitment of our residents to pull together and get through this."
So far, three Hurricane Sandy-related deaths have been reported in Newark. Earlier this week, a 47-year-old man apparently drowned to death in his car, Booker said.
Newark Public Schools are closed Friday, according to the district website.
The mayor provided the following updates post-Hurricane Sandy:
Power outages in the East and North wards are because of the downed Essex switching station, which sustained extensive damage during Hurricane Sandy. Power to the majority of the wards should be up in one to two days, Booker said.
Power may be restored to other parts of the East and North wards, which saw outages due to damaged telephone poles and downed wires, in one to five days.
The major switching station for the Central and South wards has been fixed, Booker said, and power should be restored in three to five days.
The city has not gotten an update on power outages in the West Ward, particularly neighborhoods like Vailsburg and Ivy Hill. Those areas, Booker said, may be powerless for one to five days.
Call Non-Emergency Hotline
Booker urged residents with questions and concerns, and even those with medical needs compromised by the lack of electricity, to call the city's non-emergency hotline at 973-733-4311 for information. Residents can also use that line to report downed wires or trees.
"Your failure to report downed wires could be someone else's tragedy," the mayor said.
He said those with worsening health conditions should "err on the side of calling 9-1-1."
People looking to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy can also call 973-733-4311 for information on how to lend a hand.
Be Aware of Carbon Monoxide Risks
Following the death of two teens Wednesday night of carbon monoxide poisoning, Booker warned against using stoves or other dangerous means to keep warm. He also reminded residents that backup generators can pose a safety risk without proper ventilation.
"This was tragic and entirely preventable," said Booker of the deaths.
"The way it works, if your home is warm and outside is cold, you create a vacuum that sucks that carbon monoxide into your home," he added. "You may not smell it, you may not realize it, but over time, that exposure can create a critical tragic loss of life."
He said those in homes without power and heat should stay with family or friends or the city shelter.
Fire Director Fateen Ziyad Thursday said deaths resulting from the colorless, odorless gas are "very, very irregular" in the city. He urged residents to check the batteries on their carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.
Ziyad said symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include flu-like symptoms, headache, nausea, dizziness, chest pain and confusion.
The John F. Kennedy Recreation Center, on West Kinney Street, will remain open as a shelter for residents. The center will provide hot meals and a place to sleep for those without electricity. Booker also said several feeding sites throughout the city will be established to provide residents with hot meals.
Officials said as many as 150 people have already sought shelter at JFK.
Use Extreme Caution if Driving
Officials have urged residents to stay off the roads, but if you are driving through the city, which is still experiencing power outages at major traffic lights, take it slow and use caution.
"If you're coming to intersections that has a stop light that's not functioning, the law is you must come to a complete stop and treat it like there's a stop sign there," said Booker.
Conserve Water and Electricity
Even though power may be up and running, it's still imperative to conserve energy – and other resources, like food and water, city officials said.
The city has secured a fuel supply for emergency vehicles and ambulances, Booker said.