Manchester Township Elementary School will again open its doors to residents still without power.
The Colonial Drive school will give powerless residents an escape from their unheated homes from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. JCP&L reports that electricity was restored to about 8,500 of its Manchester customers on Thursday, leaving about 7,500 without power.
"We're considering it a warming station," Chief of Police Brian Klimakowski said before the school opened to the public on Thursday. "It's not a shelter. It's a place to get warm – there will be chargers for cell phones and coffee."
Manchester's Emergency Management Coordinator Arthur Abline said that the school also serves as a distribution point for anyone without electricity from northern Ocean County to pick up self-heating meals provided by FEMA.
"They pour some salt water in there and it gets super hot," he said.
On Thursday, about 640 boxes of meals were either picked up or delivered by volunteers to those without power. Most deliveries were made to Crestwood Villages I and II, where some elderly residents were unable to travel to the school.
"A lot of people don't want to or can't leave their homes," said Tony Petro, a member of Manchester's Community Emergency Response Team who aided with the effort.
Some of the about 70 residents who stopped in at the school were bused there, said Superintendent of Schools David Trethaway, who was on-hand. The idea to open the school to the public came from Klimakowski, who called Trethaway Wednesday night to put together a plan.
"It was a very good effort from everyone," the superintendent said. "The seniors were very appreciative to sit down and talk to people, get warm and have a cup of coffee."
Volunteers from Manchester's school district, Little League and first aid squad also helped out.
The Whiting Volunteer Fire Company headquarters is open for those residents on the western side of the township to escape the cold. That building does not have supplies, Abline said, so residents who spend time there must bring their own. The station can be reached at 732-350-4646.
Though some residents brought donations of goods to MTES, Abline said that they cannot be accepted at the school.
"This is a place to get warm, have a cup of hot coffee and get meals," he said.
Those who would like to find out more about making donations can call the Ocean County Office of Emergency Management at 732-341-3451, according to Abline.