Jersey Central Power & Light is assessing the extensive damage from Hurricane Sandy, with more than 1600 linemen, 1200 forestry workers and other personnel available to help restore power to customers. This is the worst storm damage in JCP&L history, far worse than experienced during Hurricane Irene and the October 2011 snowstorm. As a result, restoration times will likely be longer.

Damage assessment began this morning with crews on the ground. Today, after winds subside, helicopter crews will inspect 230 kV transmission lines that are damaged. Early assessments indicate parts of the transmission system may need to be rebuilt. Helicopters also will assess the extensive damage throughout the system. JCP&L has 10 helicopters available and is working to secure more.

As of this morning, more than 930,000 JCP&L customers are without power and that number will probably increase as assessment continues. Limited restoration of power is expected to take place today while crews assess damage. JCP&L urges customers to make preparations given the expected lengthy outages.

Downed trees and branches have made many roads impassable, and these closures could delay this process. Forestry crews are working to remove downed trees and branches. Once winds die down and bucket trucks can be operated safely, those crews will be dispatched to handle repairs.

JCP&L's emergency operations center is already in full operation. Mobile command centers also are placed strategically around the state. Many of JCP&L's substations near the shore were sandbagged to help prevent water damage and are now being assessed. At least a few substations experienced flooding due to storm surge. The early priority will be rebuilding transmission damage and repairing flooded substations. Emergency services, including hospitals, police, fire and first aid will be given first priority for restoration of service. Then, repairs are scheduled based on restoring the most customers the fastest.

On Monday evening, JCP&L proactively de-energized substations to the barrier islands in Monmouth and Ocean counties to preserve equipment and help speed the process of restoration.