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Nor’easter could complicate Sandy relief efforts

Officials say a nor’easter that is predicted to collide with the East Coast on Wednesday could hamper post-Sandy relief efforts in areas where homes have been swept to sea, piled-up vessels have created “boat stew” and more than a million people are still without power.

Officials in storm-ravaged Brick, N.J., have issued a mandatory evacuation order for people in low-lying coastal areas, effective 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Matt Begovich, owner of Global One Yacht Sales in Neptune, N.J., told Soundings that his Brick, N.J., condo got power after three days, but his office is still without it.

“I haven’t heard anything about evacuations in reference to this particular storm,” Begovich said. “There shouldn’t be anyone living in Point Beach at this point. There’s no water, no power. It really is a Katrina-like disaster zone.”

Authorities worried that evacuation orders might be difficult to convey with so little communication in the area.

“From what I was told, communication was a real issue because the Verizon office in our area got flooded with salt water, so I have no clue what it entails to get that back up and running,” Begovich said. “Areas near the coast, and even areas inland in Brick, some are without power, there are still traffic lights out and gas is a big issue. I haven’t written a check out or paid a bill in over a week now.”

But residents are hearing about the coming storm, Begovich said. “It’s estimated at 980 millibars. That’s an exceptionally powerful nor’easter,” he said.

Hurricane Sandy was at 945 mb, which is equivalent to a Category 3 or 4 hurricane, according to The storm surge could range between 2 and 6 feet across the Northeast, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The storm threatens to deliver a double whammy as residents from Atlantic City, N.J., to Long Beach, N.Y., still struggle to meet basic needs after Sandy.

In New York, people are trying to clear debris and make sure everything is tied down, New York Marine Trades Association director Chris Squeri said.

“Are we going to see tidal flooding like during the hurricane? No,” Squeri told Soundings on Monday afternoon. “But the ground is really wet and this is going to hamper the cleanup and getting back to normal. And normal, well, you don’t even realize today’s Monday. Tonight’s a week since the storm. There’s no normal.”

A video issued by Channel 12 of raw footage taken directly after Sandy can’t even fully convey the devastation, Begovich said. Piled-up boats on patches of land have been dubbed “boat stew,” he said.

“There are natural gas fires burning on the water. It was like Beirut. It was like a war zone.”

Click here for the video.

In related news, Coast Guard Sector New York is urging boat owners to contact the sector command center at (718) 354-4120 to inquire or to provide information on any missing or derelict boats since Hurricane Sandy made landfall.

The Coast Guard will not salvage vessels but will work with boat owners to locate their vessel or provide information for commercial salvage.