Christie said 369,000 utility customers remain without power 10 days after Sandy walloped New Jersey and New York, nearly wiping at least two coastal towns right off the map.
By the end of this latest storm, which began just before the afternoon high tide around 1, Christie said it is likely that even more New Jerseyans will be sitting in the dark with more damage caused by flooding and high winds.
About 11,000 utility workers from throughout the country are in New Jersey, the governor said, and "we're going to keep them here" to help with the continuing power restoration efforts. Lineman may have to temporarily halt their work if the nor'easter creates winds over 40 mph because government regulations limit the wind speeds in which workers in bucket trucks may operate.
"We may take a setback in the next 24 hours. You need to be prepared for that . . . I'm prepared for that," Christie warned. "I hate setbacks; I don't tolerate them usually very well. But this one I can't control. The weather is what it is, and we're just going to have to deal with it."
Dozens of caravans of dump trucks began arriving on Long Beach Island on Wednesday loaded with sand and gravel to help recovery crews create makeshift dunes that will act as a barrier against heavy waves and flooding that this latest storm may cause, officials said.
After this storm, officials will determine when and how residents can begin "repopulating" the island, but there is no timetable, Christie said.
"It's going to be awhile," Christie said.
When it does happen, Christie expects an orderly return - unlike Monday, when residents waited in an eight-mile traffic jam to show identification to be allowed to cross the bridge onto.
Besides the massive devastation on much of the island and today's weather threat, residents have not been allowed to their homes because the natural gas remains turned off.
"I looked at what happened to 24 houses in Mantoloking . . . it wasn't a hard decision," Christie said of his directive to cut the gas lines into the island.
Contact Jacqueline L. Urgo at 609-652-8382 or email@example.com. Read the Jersey Shore blog "Downashore" at www.philly.com/downashore or follow her on Twitter at @JacquelineUrgo.