In the wake of Hurricane Sandy Howell residents are now trying to assess the damage caused by the storm and find ways to work through it as they wait for their power to be restored.
All along Route 9 businesses that would have normally been busy sat dark while motorists drove down the road without a working traffic signal from Freehold to Lakewood. Even with a partial travel ban in place the highway was still busy as people worked to move around the area with only two places in the town to change directions.
At the intersection of Route 9 and Aldrich a group of Howell Police officers were charged with directing traffic so cars at the jammed jughandles could go from the northbound side to the southbound side. The only other way to change directions was through Route 195 and as of late Wednesday afternoon there was no indication that that would change any time soon.
One of the most dangerous problems drivers encountered were those motorists who attempted to cross the median even in intersections where cones were blocking
As of 3 p.m. on Wednesday JCP&L was still reporting 19,540 power outages in the town which meant for stores like Home Depot and Lowes residents from around the area were coming calling for generators. Hundreds of the power-saving machines have been sold at the two stores over the past two days and at Home Depot some were lucky enough to get one while others were standing outside hoping another delivery would bring them luck.
Nisha Khanna of Marlboro and her family were among the lucky ones to get one and said they were glad to be able to return a little bit of normalcy to their lives. Khanna said they had a smaller generator but it was not enough to power the heat for their house when the low temperatures are expected to drop into the 30's into next week.
Another issue even those with generators are finding is the lack of gas needed to power them. Khanna said now that they had theirs finding gas was going to be the next challenge they faced.
One of the people waiting outside the store was Jackie Stiehl of Brick who said the Howell Home Depot was her second attempt to get a machine. "I was over in Brick and stood in line for two hours at the Brick home depot," she said. She was told by employees at that store that the Howell location was getting a delivery of 200 that would be available. From there they hurried across the border into Monmouth County. "They gave out tickets here which they didn't do in Brick," she said.
With the exception of the two home improvement stores most of the township stores were empty and black. The shopping center where Lowe's is located had two other stores in Target and Stop & Shop that were busy with customers happy to find places to go with electricity and needed supplies as thei blackout continues.
The stores will once again empty by 7 p.m. as the county has continued a curfew from last night that runs from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.