BAY HEAD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Isaias regained hurricane strength Monday night as people across New Jersey hunkered down for the storm, which started causing some in the southern coastal areas of the state.
Unrelenting rain, thunder and lightning moved through Point Pleasant, with Ocean County Airport clocking a gust of 70 mph, CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported. All of it came ahead of the big bulk of the storm expected Tuesday.
Ortley Beach resident Joe Napolitano said he knows preparations are customary for coastal living.
“We put away as much as we can, tie everything up,” Napolitano said. “With any type of storm, you can’t take it as a joke.”
UPDATE: I am declaring a STATEWIDE STATE OF EMERGENCY for Hurricane Isaias effective at 5:00 AM on Tuesday, August 4, 2020:
☑Do not be on the roads unless absolutely necessary
☑If you MUST drive, take it slow, use caution, and leave extra time to get to your destination pic.twitter.com/mMDUJsPhal
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) August 4, 2020
As Isaias inches closer, rescue teams are also prepping for the possibility of hurricane force winds and tidal surges. The Sea Bright Fire Department is rolling out its high water rescue vehicles.
“They can climb over any sand or obstacles that are on the road,” the department’s Jim Forsman said.
In Bay Head, crews moved lifeguard stands off the beach. Chris Li, the captain of the Ocean Rescue Squad, said he is most concerned with Tuesday’s high tide, saying the currents have already posed big problems.
“We had over 20 rescues. There were a lot of saves, especially with the full moon. The rip tide was worse,” Li said.
Earlier Monday, the water was calm and people were relaxing at Sea Bright Beach, but Gov. Phil Murphy was warning people to take extra precautions and watch out for rip currents.
Drone Force 2 flew over the beach, where the scene will be much different come Tuesday.
“We prepare for the worst and we hope for the best,” Forsman said.
TRACKING ISAIAS: Check the latest forecast and weather alerts
And as CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reported, business owners already dealing with the coronavirus pandemic are understandably concerned.
Restaurants in Montclair were preparing to move outdoor dining tables and tents.
“We’ll definitely have to take these down,” said Pawel Wnek, who works at Ah’ Pizz.
The restaurant relies on outdoor dining, but drenching rain means that won’t be an option.
“No one’s gonna come out. It’s just gonna rely on takeout. We’re not gonna send any of our drivers out if it’s really bad out there, as well. So, it’s definitely gonna have an impact on us,” said Wnek.
The storm could end up being a double whammy of sorts for many establishments.
“On top of dealing with the smaller capacities, on top of dealing with the fact that only half the people are ready to come out and shop and eat… This storm’s gonna have an absolutely devastating impact,” said Jason Gleason, executive director of the Montclair Center Business Improvement District.
Areas prone to flooding are taking extra precautions. Harrison is prepared to use its senior center as a storm shelter, if necessary.
“We’ve alerted the schools, we’ve alerted the police department. And there’s extra policemen coming in. [Department of Public Works] has all hands on deck, for tomorrow,” said Mayor James Fife.
In Hoboken, it’s the likelihood of heavy rain and flooding that has Mayor Ravi Bhalla restricting travel. First responders and essential workers are the only drivers allowed on city streets from 5 p.m. Tuesday until 5 a.m. Wednesday.
“Please, unless it is an emergency, avoid driving on Tuesday,” Bhalla said.
New Jersey has also been in contact with FEMA.
“Obviously, there is the possibility for some trees to come down and for power outages,” said Gov. Murphy. “Heed the warnings… If your power goes out, don’t assume your neighbor’s calling it in.”
Murphy said the best advice is to stay home during the brunt of the storm.