STATE – Gov. Chris Christie has declared a state of emergency as New Jersey awaits the arrival of Hurricane Irene. The move allows the National Guard to deploy resources throughout the state immediately.
The state Office of Emergency Management is coordinating with county and local officials as they prepare for the storm.
According to State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes, the eye of the hurricane is now expected to pass near Cape May, which will subject the barrier islands in Atlantic and Cape May counties to very high winds and a storm surge that could reach 12 feet. The storm is expected to arrive on Saturday evening, around 6 p.m.
Christie told anyone who was planning to visit the shore this weekend “do not go.” He encouraged anyone currently visiting the shore to leave tonight or tomorrow, and asked residents of the barrier islands to voluntarily evacuate.
The governor predicted that officials will close access to the barrier islands sometime Saturday and said that he’d consider ordering a mandatory evacuation. “I will not order evacuation unless I believe it’s absolutely necessary but if I order it I expect it to be complied with and we will enforce that order to evacuate people from areas where we believe that they’re in potential life-threatening circumstances,” Christie said.
Christie told people to prepare now for the arrival of the storm. “Do not leave things until the last minute. Get ready now for what will be coming on Saturday,” the governor said.
Residents in other flood-prone areas, especially in South Jersey where a number of dams failed last week, face a significant chance of additional flooding, the governor said. “There’s probably no part in the state if the storm continues to track the way it is that won’t be affected by this,” Christie added.
State Homeland Security Director Charlie McKenna advised residents to top off their gas tanks, fill prescriptions, and make sure that they have adequate cash and food supplies on hand. “The high winds in this storm could very well knock out the power for a substantial period of time,” he warned.
For more information about how to prepare for the hurricane, visit ready.nj.gov.