"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."
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 the news via radio --"the only connection to the outside world," she says -- with batteries that were a gift from neighbors.
As temperatures begin to dip into the low 40s at night, she has taken to pacing the rooms of the house she shares with her husband and dog, wearing multiple layers and a hat and scarf to keep warm.
Before the storm, she drove three miles to work. Since the storm, she drives, in gridlock and on back roads because of downed stoplights, to shop for ice, gas or food from one of two grocery stores that are open.
She says lines at the gas station are backed up about two to three miles with cars. There's a separate line of people waiting with gas cans to fuel their generators. She must return to her house at 7 p.m. for curfew.
On its website, Public Service Electric & Gas Co. (PSE&G) said it may take seven to 10 days to restore power to customers in the areas hit hardest, while Jersey Central Power & Light said the "majority" of customers will get their power back by next Wednesday.
"It's eerie. It's very quiet and, as soon as it's dark, you see nothing, you hear nothing, there's nothing going on," she says. That sense has only been amplified for New Jersey residents as stories of looting and petty burglaries have started to circulate.
"We've had a 6 p.m. curfew since the storm and heard some alarming rumors about stores being robbed or armed break-ins by people pretending to be from PSE&G," said Ted A'Zary, of Bayonne.
"It was pretty scary on Wednesday when our phones weren't really connecting and we weren't sure we could even contact 911 if we had an emergency, but it has gotten better since then."
Other concerns are high-risk groups such as children, the elderly and the ill.
A'Zary says local firefighters have been checking on older residents in the area to ensure that those in need are receiving aid.
"Our largest concern with the lack of heat has been caring for our toddler," said 41-year-old A'Zary. "Violet is 17 months old and doesn't know how to sleep under a blanket yet. We've had her sleeping with a sweater over her pajamas inside a fleece SleepSack and are checking her to be sure she's warm enough after every nap and in the morning."
Brendan Ward, a 23-year-old Glen Rock resident, has also added a few layers of blankets since he lost power on Monday afternoon.
"You wake up and are glad it's light out. At night, it's dark and not pleasant," he says.
For the first half of the week, Ward could not even leave his house, where he lives with his parents, because of downed trees and debris blocking his path.
Now, he says, he's staying out of the house as much as possible. In the small town of about 11,000, he can walk to a few of the surrounding businesses that didn't lose power.