Teams of police and power crews are working to help those in New Jersey devastated by superstorm Sandy.
Central Maine Power Company said Thursday it is sending 25 two-man line repair crews and bucket trucks, plus additional support personnel and equipment, to northwestern New Jersey to help restore service for customers.
Maine State Police Trooper Christopher Rogers, who generally patrols the Gardiner area, left for New Jersey Sunday and he expects to return home this weekend.
Rogers, one of 11 state troopers sent to help local law enforcement in New Jersey, has worked 12-hour overnight shifts patrolling the Monmouth County area, specifically around Union Beach.
“You go down these streets and it’s just mountains of debris,” he said Thursday. “It looks like a war zone. It’s incredible.”
There were about 500 homes destroyed in Union Beach and their remains are scattered throughout the community. One house was picked up and dropped in the middle of an intersection, Rogers said. Cars are flipped upside down. Boats are wedged between utility poles and houses.
“It’s hard to make sense of it,” he said.
The Maine troopers are primarily responsible for enforcing a curfew and carrying out other general law enforcement duties. The hope is that the police presence — all the troopers were sworn in as full-duty New Jersey police upon their arrival — will maintain peace and prevent looting.
“We just checking for people that shouldn’t be around and protecting what property there is left,” Rogers said.
He said one of his fellow troopers, responding to a report of a suspicious noise, found a man, woman and 2-year-old child huddled inside a home left vacant by the storm. It was 20 degrees outside. The woman and child were taken to a warm place, Rogers said. The man, who was primarily responsible for breaking in to the home, was taken to his parent’s house.
The storm has decimated the local police departments, Rogers said. The local officers — some of whom have lost their own homes — have been stretched to the breaking point responding to calls for help while maintaining order.
Rogers said is glad he has been able to help.
“If nothing more it’s peace of mind for them so they can step back and be with their family,” he said.