With Hurricane Sandy pounding the Jersey Shore, residents of the predominantly Jewish town of Lakewood were already experiencing severe damage early Monday.
Just after noon, trees and power lines had begun to fall, due to strong winds reaching up to 70 m.p.h. Local authorities reported that more than 5,000 residents were already without power.
Township officials closed public schools and canceled busing on Monday and Tuesday, meaning Lakewood’s large private school population, the majority of which attend local yeshivas, would not have transportation to and from school.
Lakewood is approximately 10 miles west from the Atlantic Ocean, but still lies directly in the line of Sandy’s projected path. The eye of the hurricane was expected to reach landfall late Monday night and the National Weather Service reported Sandy’s trajectory towards Lakewood and surrounding areas as a “worst-case scenario.”
With area residents getting a head start on stocking up on supplies, clearing out aisles in local Target, Home Depot and other big box stores, Lakewood’s large ultra-Orthodox population quickly stored up on non-perishables at local markets on Sunday morning. By midday Sunday, there were reports of extreme shortages of generators, gasoline and bottled water.
A few Haredi Jewish shops were open on Monday morning, but expected to close by the evening.
Local officials also decided to drain Lake Carasaljo, which flows through the center of town and is approximately five miles in circumference, to prevent flooding near lakeshore houses and schools.