By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr.
Governor Chris Christie has declared a state of emergency for the Garden State as Hurricane Sandy moves closer to our shores.
Christie said that the state is ready and prepared for the storm which will bring 50-75mph winds for an anticipated 36 straight hours. The governor has ordered a mandatory evacuation of all the state’s barrier islands south of Sandy Hook. That means Sea Bright, Monmouth Beach and the North End section of Long Branch.
While holding a press conference yesterday (October 27,) in Middletown, Christie was his usual blunt self. “Everyone’s saying, ‘this is crap, it isn’t going to happen, the weathermen always get it wrong, so I’m just going to hang out here’. “Please don’t, ok? We have to be prepared for the worst here.”
Sunday afternoon Christie held a press conference in North Jersey stating that all those in the evacuation zones must be out by 4:00pm tonight. “We can’t stop the storm. But we can prepare and we are ready,” said Christie. The governor also encouraged every school in the state to close on Monday.
The state will also stop all mass transportation services on Sunday evening. Christie said that the worst part of Hurricane Sandy will impact our area late Sunday into Monday evening. Locally, our area is anticipating severe flooding.
Long Branch Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Stan Dzuiba stated Saturday evening that storm surges, heavy rain, and dangerous winds are a serious threat and his team is taking it very seriously. He also asked that any Long Branch resident requiring assistance or information in regard to Hurricane Sandy call 732-571-6575, and not the 9-11 operators or city police switchboard.
Police and firefighters were notifying residents Sunday morning that if they lived in the North section of the city they needed to evacuate. He also stated that the entire city is on voluntary evacuation, and said if you can “go west” do it.
Monmouth County has established a shelter at the MAC Center on the campus of Monmouth University. Residents of Long Branch that are evacuating are asked to go to a local firehouse and transportation will be provided. Those evacuating will first be taken to the Long Branch Middle School for registration and intake, then transported to the MAC Center.
Christie stated that if anyone needs to check on a shelter to visit www.NJ211.org for a complete list county by county. Please be advised that the MAC Center at Monmouth University will not accept people with pets.
Long Branch Police will also stop people from visiting the oceanfront during the storm. “The area will be off limits,” said Dzuiba. He said that once the winds reach 50mph all emergency personnel will not respond to calls for help. “If you chose to stay and it becomes dangerous we will not respond until it is safe for our responders,” said Dzuiba.
Christie also announced Sunday afternoon that all NJ Transit operations will be stopped Sunday evening. “It is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission,” said Christie.
Every town has emergency notifications on their websites. So please check your town’s site. As of 2:43pm Sunday, Hurricane Sandy is expected to make landfall between Atlantic City to Toms River. However, it does not matter where it lands as the storm is currently 500 miles wide.
This is going to be a very bad storm; experts say it has the potential to be the biggest and most devastating storm to hit our state in recorded history. Monmouth Medical Center will be staying open for emergency situations, but it is not a shelter!
Walter J. O’Neill, Jr.