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Christie Declares State Of Emergency; Orders Evacuations In Some Parts Of N.J.

Gov. Chris Christie

Gov. Chris Christie (Credit: CBS 2)

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SEA BRIGHT, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has declared a state of emergency in advance of the Hurricane Sandy “Frankenstorm,” and has ordered evacuations for many areas.

Christie said the Barrier Islands, from Sandy Hook South to Cape May, will be under a mandatory evacuation order by 4 p.m. Sunday. The Atlantic City casinos will also be under an evacuation order by no later than 4 p.m., and national parks must be evacuated by noon.

WCBS 880’s Jim Smith Reports

Christie said no one should be “cynical” about the forecasts, and everyone should prepare for the worst.

“We should not underestimate the impact of this storm, and we should not assume our predictions will be wrong,” Christie said. “I’m not trying to be an alarmist here. I want everyone to be ready. I want your families to be safe and I want us to be able to do our jobs the right way.”

Evacuation centers will be open for all those in need, he said. Also, everyone around the state should prepare for power outages of up to 10 days, he said.

Those on the shoreline who are not on the Barrier Islands should consider voluntary evacuation, Christie said.

New Jersey state police Col. Rick Fuentes said tropical storm-force winds of 40 to 70 mph will blow statewide, and hurricane-force winds will be blowing along the shoreline.

Fuentes reminded anyone subject to an evacuation order to obey. First responders will also be seeking shelter once tropical storm-force winds begin blowing, and may not be available for rescues.

Once tropical storm-force winds are blowing, first responders will also be taking shelter, Fuentes said.

“You should prepare for at least two to three days of harsh conditions starting overnight on Sunday,” Fuentes said.

Eastern-bound roads to the Barrier Islands will be closed after 4 p.m. Sunday. While people are urged to stay off the roads, no other closures were planned as of midday Saturday, Christie said.

Tolls will be suspended on the northbound side of the Garden State parkway and westbound Atlantic City Expressway starting at 6 a.m. on Sunday to facilitate the evacuation of coastal areas in advance of Hurricane Sandy.

1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten Reports

On Saturday afternoon, owners of many stores facing the ocean were already boarding up. Rachel at Adrenaline Fitness in Sea Bright said that business was closing down.

“We’re going to close just to be safe Monday through Wednesday, unless the storm passes us, then we’ll be open.”

During major storms, the ocean and the river meet and the entire town is left underwater, 1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten reported.

In some areas, voluntary evacuations began ahead of time.

As CBS 2’s Amy Dardashtian reported, the storm surge from Hurricane Sandy has the potential of decimating not only the Jersey Shore, but several low-lying areas that are prone to flooding are also at risk.

Gov. Chris Christie, who was on his way back to the state from a political trip to North Carolina, urged residents Friday to prepare for a “serious storm.”

Hurricane Sandy is expected to make landfall late Monday night, but violent winds and torrential rain could move in as soon as Sunday evening. Current models indicated Saturday morning that landfall would be close to Atlantic City, but it could be anywhere between the Virginia coastline and Long Island.

Sea Bright councilman C. Reed Murphy, who works for the Office of Emergency Management, began tracking the storm at the beginning of the day Saturday. He said he expected the storm to be “extremely serious.”

“I think you’re going to see high winds, extreme flooding, more than one tide,” Murphy said. “This is not like a hurricane. It’s going it be a sustained storm. It’s going to sit here for a little while.”

Murphy has been tracking storms since the 1980s, but he expects the Hurricane Sandy Frankenstorm to be the worst since well before that.

“This is only my opinion, but I think this is going to be worse than anything I’ve seen, and I’ve seen storms here back into the 60s,” he said. “We went through a chain of storms in the 80s and two in the 90s. Just the wind gradient — this is so large, and you’re going from a tropical situation joining up with a front that’s sitting to the west of here.”

All morning in Sea Bright, crews were pushing up sand along the shoreline. But shopkeepers were taking no chances, choosing to board up their businesses.

As Sandy approached, Sea Bright, resident Brian George was using lessons learned from Irene to safeguard his store, hauling sand from the beach to make sandbags to block the water.

“Last time, it went up about 1 1/2 feet,” George said.

He expects flooding from the ocean on one side, and from a river on the other.

“When you move to Sea Bright, you know what you’ve got,” George said.

While Saturday was shaping up to be labor-intensive for some, others were waiting to see the storm’s progression before getting worried.

But even those who live on higher ground had a plan – be it backup batteries, extra water or a “go-bag.”

HURRICANE SANDY: Track | Forecast | Listen Now: 1010 WINS | WCBS 880

Some had already begun evacuating voluntarily across the shore. But fisherman Steve Smith said he doesn’t plan to evacuate unless he absolutely has to, and said he finds the storm exciting.

“We like to watch the waves and the ocean,” he said.

But officials warn it can be serious and dangerous, and people along the Jersey Shore know that feeling well.

“Once the river starts to go, this brook here will fill, and when that fills, we’re in trouble,” one resident said.

The devastating effects of Hurricane Irene left a lasting impression on the Jersey Shore.

Jersey Central Power & Light, which was criticized for its response to Irene, notified employees to be ready for extended shifts.

Public Service Electric and Gas was monitoring Sandy and stepping up emergency preparations. The utility requested more than 1,300 linemen and 600 tree contractors from utilities in other states for assistance.

CHECK: PSE&G | JCP&L | Orange & Rockland

Officials in Belmar were pumping water into the ocean from Silver Lake and Lake Como, a move residents like Ann Murphy hope will save their homes if Hurricane Sandy comes close.

In low-lying Little Falls, N.J., the Passaic River was a concern. Officials warned that if evacuations were ordered, residents abide by them or it may be hard to get out afterwards.

In other parts of New Jersey flooding from a reservoir was a major concern. Pompton Lakes residents told CBS 2’d Derricke Dennis that they were moving furniture off of the first floor of their home to save it from being ruined.

“I’m hoping it’s all for naught, but no sense taking a chance,” said Jerry DeMarsico.

Transportation hubs such as Newark Penn Station expect delays and cancellations come Monday.

“What we would encourage our customers to do is to, number one, have a plan think ahead, to see what would happen if there was an interruption, number two, to monitor news outlets,” said NJ TRANSIT spokesman John Durso Jr.

Officials are advising area residents to stock up about 10 days of supplies, and to heed evacuation warnings.

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