SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. (CBS/AP) — Gov. Chris Christie said Friday that life should be back to normal for most of New Jersey by the start of next week, with power restored to nearly everyone and the gasoline situation stabilized, clearing the way for a long, difficult rebuilding period.

The governor said the rebuilding would include the restoration of the state’s most iconic attractions, but he cautioned that the Jersey Shore won’t look the same this summer as it did last this past summer.

“I know we will get there because we are tough folks,” he said in a briefing that was part pep talk. “We don’t mess around.”

Calling Superstorm Sandy “our Katrina,” the governor said he spent a difficult day visiting the battered area of Seaside Heights, where he spent his youth, and the place where he has brought his children.

But, he said, “just because we are down today doesn’t mean we won’t be up tomorrow.”

The governor said power would be restored to nearly everyone in the state by Saturday night, and that he would likely decide by early next week whether to end gas rationing, which cut the long lines that formed as a result of many stations in North Jersey losing power and being unable to operate their pumps.

Jersey Central Power & Light had said late Thursday that it wouldn’t be able to restore power to thousands who lost their electricity due to Wednesday’s nor’easter until next week. But on Friday, it said it would get power back to most customers by Saturday night.

The governor said discussions on power issues were held late Thursday and early Friday, but did not elaborate.

He also announced that residents of all of Long Beach Island, except heavily damaged Holgate, would be able to return to their homes Saturday and stay in them if they are inhabitable.

Eighty percent of schools were able to open by Friday, he said, and even more will be ready Monday.

Christie said he still did not know how many people will need long-term housing assistance. He said 4,500 people remained in shelters, and an untold number were staying with friends and relatives.

He said the state still could not put an estimate on the cost of the damage caused by Sandy.

Christie signed an Executive Order Friday, giving New Jersey residents hard hit by Hurricane Sandy, more time to pay fourth-quarter property taxes that were due November 1. The grace period is extended to November 16 for taxpayers who reside in municipalities that are not holding an accelerated tax sale.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The AssociatedPress contributed to this report.)

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