BELMAR, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – The situation on the Jersey Shore was getting more intense by the minute Sunday night, as Hurricane Sandy led the wind to pick up and the water to really start churning.
Gov. Chris Christie warned if Sandy is as bad as anticipated, the power could be out for some residents for up to 10 days.
A mandatory evacuation order was issued effective back at 4 p.m. for the barrier islands from Sandy Hook to Cape May, as well as low-lying areas of Jersey City and some other locations.
The situation on the Jersey Shore was getting more intense by the minute Sunday night, as Hurricane Sandy led the wind to pick up and the water to really start churning.
As CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported, residents of Belmar were also among those evacuated Sunday. The sea was fierce as Sandy inched closer to the Jersey Shore.
At high tide, the water poured onto the road, and left a mess of sea foam is behind. Storm watchers in Belmar were in awe at the intensity.
“I’ve never seen anything like it before,” said Nate Johnson. “For New Jersey, it’s really crazy!”
“It’s nice to watch it right now, and when it gets dangerous, we’ll get out of here,” said Doug McLearen.
In the borough of about 5,900 people, everyone was ordered to leave. Mayor Matt Doherty told CBS 2 of the dangerous and deadly implications of staying behind.
“Emergency vehicles may not be able to get to them,” Doherty said. “It’s better safe than sorry, so when time is available, it’s better to leave now and stay with friends and family.”
Belmar is surrounded on three sides by water – the ocean, the Shark River, and a bay and marina area.
All over New Jersey, tens of thousands were evacuated.
“I want to make sure that everybody keeps all this stuff in perspective,” Christie said earlier Sunday. “We are expecting a pretty significant storm here that could lead to very significant flooding.”
People along the coast boarded up their homes and businesses. They stocked up on supplies, and stacked up sandbags. Serious beach erosion was expected, and there could be major damage to the boardwalks all up and down the shore.
Many marveled at how Sandy’s wrath is already far outpacing that of Tropical Storm Irene.
“Nowhere near,” said John Ignatowicz. “The water wasn’t this close to the street at this point, and I think it’s going to be bad.”
“I’m hoping that were prepared with the way this storm is coming in – the weather, the winds,” said Ray Berardi.
Inland Areas Also Affected
Inland in Cranford, N.J., Michael and Kathy Seelock were heeding the mandatory evacuation order.
WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reports |titles= Evacuation In Cranford, N.J.|artists=WCBS 880|type=audio]
“We’re moving out, so hotel room here we come,” Michael Seelock said.
They were not willing to take any chances, living a stone’s throw from the Rahway River and seeing the damage from last year.
“In Irene, we had over 4 feet of water on our top floor, and it was devastating,” he said.
And Kathy Seelock said it was heartbreaking to have to do it all over again.
“Literally last Monday, we put the last drop of paint on these steps.”
So they left their home of 26 years, not sure what would be left when they returned.
“Prepare for the worst, hope for the best,” Michael Seelock said.
At the Pompton Lakes dam, crews manually opened the floodgates to bring the water level down at least 5 feet in the reservoirs. Many residents remembered that during Hurricane Irene last year, floodwaters went right over the dam wall and washed out bridges, causing flooding.
In Pompton Lakes, residents and businesses were preparing for the worst.
A car dealership across from the dam, on Hamburg Turnpike in Wayne has moved all the cars off the lot, brought all furniture indoors and set up sandbags to help minimize potential damage.
“I think the dam is doing more harm than good because we’ve never had flooding like this,” said car dealership owner Ray Maroon Jr.
Residents in flood zones have been busy moving their possessions to higher ground.
“I’m hoping it’s all for naught, but no sense taking a chance,” said Pompton Lakes resident Jerry DeMarsico.
Officials opened the floodgates at the dam’s reservoir to help lower the water level by five feet to help minimize flood damage.
Nearby in Wayne, N.J., it was dry late Sunday night. But rivers were rising, and were soon to get whipped up.
Many residents got their homes as ready as possible, and got out of the way.
“(We) brought it all upstairs to avoid any damage to our property, and it’s a big cleanup process after so, the less we have to spray off with the hose and disinfect the better it is for us,” said Eric Miller of Pompton Lakes.
Christie applauded those who took precautions, stocked up and fled low lying areas. But for those unmoved and under-motivated, he had these choice words.
“We want everyone to stay off the roads. Again, we can’t emphasize this enough. Don’t try to go out there and be a hero, or act as if there is nothing going on here,” he said. “Something is happening. We want you to stay inside for the day tomorrow.”
Parents were glad schools were closed. Some expected to stay in their pajamas all day, riding out the storm.
“I’m actually a little relieved, because I was nervous if the rain and the wind was going to be that bad, I’m at work and can’t get to them fast enough,” said Elaine Drexler. “This way the school doesn’t have to worry it our kids are home and safe and I’m with them.”
“It’s a day off from school extra time for my projects to do so I’m happy about it,” added her son, Matthew Drexler, 13, who is in eighth grade.
Northern New Jersey residents also complained that some stores were out of bottled water as people across the region stock up ahead of landfall.