By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr.
Governor Chris Christie has declared a state of emergency for New Jersey and has ordered mandatory evacuations starting on Sunday, October 28. All residents of Sea Bright and Monmouth Beach and those living in low-lying areas are advised to move west.
Stan Dziuba, Office of Emergency Management Coordinator for the City of Long Branch, held an emergency meeting at city hall on Saturday night. “This is a serious storm, it will be worse than the 1992 storm with one-to-two foot storm surges,” said Dziuba. “We have been working and communicating very closely with Monmouth County and the State and it does not look good for us.”
According to the latest information (Saturday, October 27, at 5:00pm) our area can expect winds from 50-65mph with gusts over 75mph. “Monday night around 9:00pm until Tuesday midday is the brunt of the storm,” said Dziuba. “The seas will be around 21-feet, that is two stories.” He also spoke about the tide conditions stating that normally there is about 3-to-5 hours between high tides which allows the water to recess. However, with this storm and the surges they only anticipate about 60 minutes between high tides.
What that means is significant flooding. Dziuba also stated that we will get about 8-10 inches of rain, added with the tides will create havoc in the area. “We are ordering a mandatory evacuation of our north section of town. Atlantic Avenue at Branchport Avenue all the way to the oceanfront. Police and firefighters will start to notify residents in that area on Sunday morning,” added Dziuba.
Jersey Central Power and Light have informed OEM that wide spread power outages are expected and it will take between 7-10 days to restore. City Administrator Howard Woolley stated that if your power goes out please don’t call 9-11 or the Long Branch Police. “Your best bet is to call JCP&L as they are equipped for those calls,” said Woolley. “However, if you see a live wire down then call the police immediately.”
The MAC Center on the campus of Monmouth University will be the evacuation shelter and open at 1:00pm on Sunday.. Residents of Long Branch that will require transportation to the shelter are asked to go to their local fire house, and a bus will transport them to the Long Branch Middle School where intake reception is being conducted and then they will be transported to Monmouth University.
If you are going to leave your home it is important that you bring certain items with you. Pillow, blanket, medicine, cash and important documents. It is also recommended that you fill up your cars with gas, get a phone charger (if the power goes out the only way to charge your phone is using your car) and to secure any items around your home.
“It is important to know that any area that is under mandatory evacuation will be under the control of the police,” said Dziuba. He also stated that police will not allow spectators to go to the oceanfront to watch the waves. “All residents of Long Branch are asked to evacuate. If you can go west, please do so. If you stay in your home please know that at some point during the storm we will not be able to help you if you need it.”
Dziuba stated that once the winds get to 50mph it will be unsafe for police, fire and first aid. “We are expecting server winds for 36 hours. That is a long time, so if you require assistance we will not be able to get to you. So please evacuate to a safer area,” said Dziuba.
“The good news is that we have some very talented people with the expertise in dealing with this type of emergency,” said Adam Schneider, Mayor of Long Branch. “I ask everyone to listen to these warnings and to take the proper steps to ensure your safety.”
Michael Salvatore, Superintendent of Schools, stated that on Monday and Tuesday all district schools will be closed. “We are cooperating and working with the City of Long Branch. We will have busses ready to help those with transportation needs and the Middle School will be the reception center for all those needing shelter,” said Salvatore.
For additional updates please visit www.visitlongbranch.com, or channel 20 (Comcast users in LB) or tune your radio to 1620am.