Rep. Bob Turner: Weeks After Superstorm, Jersey in 'Fog of War'

Friday, 09 Nov 2012 07:33 PM

By Todd Beamon and John Bachman

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The New York-New Jersey region is in a “fog of war” after Superstorm Sandy – and that may not be how top government officials see it, New York Rep. Bob Turner tells Newsmax TV.

“Sometimes, a view from the top isn’t exactly what’s happening on the ground,” the GOP congressman, who lost his home to fire in the storm, tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview. “There’s just a fog of war that you have in these situations.”

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Turner was referring to the accolades bestowed on President Barack Obama just after the storm by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg – who endorsed Obama’s re-election bid shortly before last Tuesday’s election.

“In terms of cooperation, everyone is of good will and is working their tails off to see that we solve this problem,” Turner added. “But there is confusion here, there’s miscommunications, there’s missed directions – and we’re working our way through that.”

Nearly two weeks after Superstorm Sandy battered the region with a 14-foot storm surge, more than 100 people are dead, millions are still without electricity – and both states are now rationing gas using methods reminiscent of the height of the energy crisis of the 1970s.

Recovery efforts were further complicated by a nor’easter earlier this week that dumped a foot of thick, heavy snow throughout the region, bringing strong winds that knocked out power to more residents and even colder temperatures.

Turner’s home was among more than 100 destroyed in the Breezy Point neighborhood of Queens in Sandy’s aftermath. Nearly 200 firefighters battled the blaze, according to news reports.

Besides the Federal Emergency Management Agency, recovery efforts are being conducted by such organizations as the Red Cross and Catholic Charities.

“There are many, many homes destroyed by fire and then by water,” Turner said. “There were 131 homes destroyed in my immediate neighborhood by the fire.”

The biggest challenge now is restoring power, he said.

“Immediately, there is the restoration of power for those who have damaged homes but have not been destroyed. Right now, we have almost 40,000 people along the southern shore of Long Island without power,” Turner said.

“The other immediate problem is a gasoline shortage. Some of the refineries in the harbor were disrupted in getting oil and gas supplies. There’s an acute shortage – and that’s backed up on the volunteers, the delivery of emergency supplies – and it’s a real problem.

“More than half the gas stations are closed. And some are without power.”

And in those long gas lines are short fuses, Turner added.

“Individuals are standing in gasoline lines with gas cans for their generators – and that’s pretty much the case along the East Coast. Sometimes, people are waiting in their cars or standing there for hours, only to find out they have topped out before they get to the pumps.

“It’s led to a couple of altercations, problems – and we’re having trouble getting clear information from the governor and others on where alternative gas supplies can be found, how quickly they can be brought in, and can inspectors get into some of the washed-out gas stations and get the pumps going.”

Restoring power is so arduous, Turner said, because of so few licensed electricians working the region.

“Crews have been brought in from other states. It’s just a very tedious process that can’t be circumvented. If somebody’s fuse box has been saturated with salt water, and it’s removed before the utility companies can approve putting a new one in, they have to inspect for wires to make sure it doesn’t short out somewhere else.

“Inspections have to be done by licensed electricians, and there’s just not enough of them.”

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