A schedule of temporary barrier island closures has been announced by the township as New Jersey Natural Gas plans inspections that will allow gas service to be re-activated in the area battered by Hurricane Sandy.
The schedule outlines when certain sections of the barrier island will be accessible as work is completed. NJNG inspections originally were expected to be completed by Dec. 18; the new schedule shows that work should be completed by Dec. 14, allowing access to all residents on the weekend of Dec. 15.
The complete and detailed schedule is available on the township's website. According to the posting, the North Beaches will close from Dec. 8 to 13, Lavallette will close from Dec. 11 to 13 and Ortley will close from Dec. 10 to 13.
It is noted that the schedule is subject to change should NJNG require more time to inspect their system.
Crews are prepared to re-activate gas service on the island but must follow a protocol to charge the lines before any sources of ignition — vehicles included —can enter the area, according to the township.
Once gas lines in the area are re-activated, another team will begin installing meters. When meters are installed and electricity has been restored, a qualified technician who has determined the gas equipment is safe may restore service to the property, according to NJNG.
Natural gas service is expected to be restored by the end of December to "all of our customers whose homes have not sustained such major damage that we cannot safely restore their service," a spokesperson for the utility said.
The news from NJNG is in contrast to unsubstantiated rumors that flew during Sandy's aftermath that indicated it would take between six and eight months to repair the gas network.
Customers who smell gas are advised to leave the building, refrain from using matches, cell phones or electrical switches and are asked to call 1-800-GAS-LEAK.