The drinking water in Atlantic City is unfit to drink, leading the county to recommend boiling water at a rolling boil for one minute before using, Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson said at a press conference at the Anthony “Tony” Canale Training Center in Egg Harbor Township late Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 30.
To help ensure city residents will have safe drinking water, the county also ordered 14,000 gallons of water to be delivered to the city. County officials said the water is already en route.
Levinson said he also was unsure as to any visits to the area from President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the president announced he would tour sites in New Jersey hit hard by Tropical Storm Sandy.
“Your filtration systems will not work,” Levinson said of Atlantic City’s water situation. “If you’re going to wash your fruit or even wash your pets, you’re going to need to boil the water first. … You can’t even wash cuts with that water.”
According to Levinson, a microorganism has seeped into Atlantic City’s water supply, making it unsafe to drink. Atlantic City uses its own water supply, ACMUA, which is why only Atlantic City’s water is being impacted.
“We’re asking people to conserve water throughout the whole county and people are being asked to conserve water statewide.”
Levinson said there was no timetable for when access to the barrier islands would be reopened. The barrier islands of Longport, Margate, Ventnor, Atlantic City and Brigantine were evacuated and cut off to access by the rest of the county on Sunday.
“When it’s safe to open the barrier islands, we’ll open them,” Levinson said. “The islands are a disaster area. There are boats floating down the street. Houses were devastated. The amount of devastation is overwhelming.”
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection had to ensure the sand was not contaminated before it can be returned to the beach. County officials say that process has already been completed, and the sand is safe to return.
Levinson reported one fatality in the county as it relates to Tropical Storm Sandy. According to Levinson, a 66-year-old Atlantic City resident died of cardiac arrest as they were entering a bus to be taken to a shelter.
The travel ban for the county has been lifted, with the exception of the barrier islands. Roads east of Shore Road will remain closed to traffic until further notice. A 6 a.m.-6 p.m. curfew will continue to be enforced until further notice.
All major roadways are open, including the Garden State Parkway and the Atlantic City Expressway, but there will continue to be no access to the barrier islands.
As of Tuesday afternoon, 92,000 Atlantic County residents were without power.
“The outages have exacerbated,” Levinson said. “Crews continue to work on this. It can be devastating, particularly on the barrier islands.”
The five shelters at Pleasantville High School, Pleasantville Middle School, Buena Regional High School, Buena Middle School and St. Augustine Prep, which is reserved for those who need constant medical supervision, are reaching capacity, but most still have room. Only Buena Regional High School was said to have reached capacity.
According to Galloway Township Police Chief Pat Moran, the shelter of last resort at the Galloway Middle School is being closed, as no one checked into it. He added that the emergency command center is also being shut down, but that the township will continue to monitor emergency situations, and that anyone with emergency management issues was to contact the township directly at 652-3700, ext 206.
County services will be restored on Wednesday, including library hours at the county branches in Somers Point, Mays Landing, Egg Harbor City and Egg Harbor Township. No decision had yet been made on the branches in Galloway and Hammonton.
Levinson said it was up to individual school districts as to when they were going to reopen. The Galloway School District will be closed on Wednesday.
The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and Atlantic Cape Community College remained closed on Wednesday. Stockton will reopen on Thursday, Nov. 1.
Galloway postponed its trick-or-treating hours for Halloween from Wednesday until Saturday, Nov. 3, 6-8 p.m.