Powerless in New Jersey post-Sandy

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Story highlights

Nearly 1.5 million people in New Jersey remain without power

Power companies estimate full coverage will be restored by next week

Residents are grilling outdoors and relying on friends for electricity and hot water

Lines for gasoline are miles long, and the waits are endless

CNN  — 

“You’re disconnected from the whole entire world,” says Gerri Holterhoff, after her mobile phone drops another call.

After Superstorm Sandy walloped the East Coast on Monday night, more than 2 million New Jersey residents, such as 62-year-old Holterhoff of Ocean Township, were left without electricity, heat or cell phone service.

Power has been restored to some households, but nearly 1.5 million customers are still in the dark statewide, and many neighborhoods have been left in disarray.

The New Jersey coast saw the worst of the storm. In the town of Toms River and surrounding barrier islands, 200 people had to be pulled to safety from encroaching flood waters. Gov. Chris Christie said the damage along the Jersey Shore was “unthinkable.”

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Located about four miles inland, the suburban community of Ocean Township wasn’t spared. Though she hasn’t had to contend with flooding, Holterhoff’s neighborhood is a graveyard of broken tree branches, and no one has power for miles around.

Since losing electricity, she has learned to be resourceful. She has no choice.

For warm food, she has relied on the charcoal-fueled barbecue grill outside.

“As food was defrosting, I was taking it out and cooking it. Pot pies, toaster cakes – anything we could do,” she says.

Meanwhile, she uses her car battery to charge her cell phone.

“Sometimes at night, I’m out there charging the phone and have a flashlight and am reading a book,” she says.

She’s able to keep up with t