Electric utilities and Gov. Phil Murphy warned that it could take days for some parts of New Jersey to have electricity restored. PSE&G, the state’s largest utility, described Isaias as “among the strongest storms to hit our service territory in recent years.”
Now, people who need to plug-in their phones, laptops and other devices are going to have to get creative.
First and foremost, anyone who is in a life-threatening situation because their power is out or their medical equipment has failed should call 911 immediately for help, said Jeffery Pompper, Salem County’s deputy emergency management coordinator.
People who are not in emergency situations but still need juice could typically head to a public facility like a library to charge up. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, those options may not be readily available, according to Laura Connolly, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management. She added that people can still call 211, the state’s community resource hotline.
“People can still call 211 if they still need resources,” Connolly said. “If they’re without power, if they have medical issues, anything like that.”
The opening of cooling centers and other emergency response facilities is being driven largely on a local level in the aftermath of Isaias, so people should check with local officials about the availability of such options.
In Monroe Township (Middlesex County) for example, the local senior center is open Tuesday evening for people who need to charge critical medical equipment.
Elsewhere in Middlesex County, New Brunswick opened Lord Stirling School as a cooling center for residents without power. That cooling center will be open at least through Friday and possibly into the weekend, according to the city. It is unclear if charging areas will be available.
Old Bridge is using the George Bush Center at the town’s municipal complex as a cooling and charging center on Wednesday. Residents coming to the center will need a mask and will have their temperature taken.
Metuchen has opened two charging stations, one at the Metuchen Library and one at Edgar Middle School, for residents to use while following social distancing guidelines. Wifi is available at these centers.
Trenton, meanwhile, opened a shelter on Wednesday morning at Joyce Kilmer Elementary School for residents who are in need of air conditioning, electricity and food. The city said beds will also be available at the shelter, and that COVID-19 precautions will be taken to minimize risk of spreading the disease. The city will provide transportation to the shelter for residents in need who call 609-989-3801.
In Morris County, Mendham Township announced it has opened an emergency charging station on Wednesday for residents at the Brookside Firehouse. That station will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Neighboring Mendham Borough opened a charging station at the Garabrant Center on Wednesday.
Next door, Morris Township will open charging stations on Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the town’s Woodland Fire Company and Fairchild Fire Company.
Chester Township was in the process of setting up a tent outside the township’s community barn for people to charge electronics and get potable water, Chester Councilman Mike Inganamort tweeted.
Montville Township will open a charging station at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday outside of the Montville Senior House. Showers are also available at the facility for families, but appointments must be made by calling ahead.
Madison Borough has a cooling and charging center open on Wednesday until 4:30 p.m. at the Hartley Dodge Memorial building.
A cooling and charging center is open Wednesday with limited capacity in Pequannock Township at the local senior house. Masks and social distancing are required.
Randolph Township has opened its community center as a charging station as well.
And in Roxbury Township, the local library has setup two charging stations for residents. One is in the front gazebo, and the other is at the back entrance.
Hunterdon County’s main library and North County library are open, with computer access for people seeking an internet connection, according to county spokeswoman Ruthi Cass. She added that the libraries are operating at a 25% capacity because of COVID-19 restrictions, face coverings are required and that computer time is limited to one hour per day.
Elsewhere in Hunterdon, Cass said the Raritan Township municipal building is open for residents who need internet and a charge, as is the Milford Public Library. Hunterdon County residents can also call the Hunterdon Helpline at 908-782-4357 for assistance.
Hillsborough and Warren Township, both in Somerset County, have opened charging and cooling stations for residents. The Hillsborough station is at the town’s municipal building, according to a Patch report, while Warren Township’s station is at the local police building.
Marlboro, in Monmouth County, has opened the town recreation center for cooling and charging, with COVID-19 precautions in place.
Elsewhere in Monmouth County, Highlands has opened a cooling and charging center at Sung Harbor Community Center, while Ocean Township has opened a similar station at the West Park Recreation Center. Aberdeen Township has setup two facilities — at the Sigismondi Community Center and the Hausmann Senior Center — but both are only open upon request, according to information provided by a county spokesperson.
Neptune has opened three such centers: One at the local library, one at the town marina and one at the town’s senior center.
And Colts Neck has opened cooling and charging centers at town hall, the local library and at both of the town’s fire stations.
In Union County, Summit has established an outdoor charging station for residents at the Broad Street east parking lot, according to city spokeswoman Amy Cairns. That station will be available from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
In Bergen County, the county administration building in Hackensack was previously a cooling center, but had lost power during the storm, said a county spokesman. But the county was in the process of setting up ice and water distribution sites in Paramus, said County Executive James Tedesco.
In Cape May County, some local emergency shelters may be opened if the area’s power outages are prolonged, county spokeswoman Diane Wieland said. She added that if the shelters are opened, protocols will be put in place to protect the public against COVID-19.
Atlantic County libraries will be open on Wednesday, county spokeswoman Linda Gilmore said. That includes the branch library in Mays Landing, which has a dedicated charging station.
In Hudson County, some local businesses are opening up their doors to those without power. Local brewery Departed Soles posted on Instagram that it would setup its outdoor seating and run extension cords for those who needed to charge their devices or use electricity to work remotely.
To help those who needed potable water and to keep cool, power company Jersey Central Power & Light set up water and ice distribution sites across the state. PSE&G also said it would be setting up stations where customers can get free water and ice; the utility said it would annoucent the locations and hours for those stations on its Facebook and Twitter pages.
Where local facilities are not an option, rationing your device’s power during a power outage is critical. Make sure you dim your device’s screens as much as possible, and only run one program at a time to preserve battery life. Keep your phone on low-power mode.
External chargers are a lifesaver for situations like these. But if you don’t have one of those, and you are dealing with an extended power outage, you may have to sacrifice your laptop to charge your phone.
In desperate situations people who still need electricity can try to charge their phones in their cars without the engine running. This will work even if you’re out of gas. Just remember that when normalcy returns, your car battery may be pretty drained and you might need a jump to get the engine started again.
This story was updated at 3:55 p.m.
NJ Advance Media staff reporters Nick Devlin, Rebecca Panico and Kelly Heyboer contributed to this report.
Michael Sol Warren may be reached at email@example.com.