The barrier islands of Longport, Margate, Ventnor, Atlantic City and Brigantine must be evacuated by 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon, per state officials, Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson and Atlantic County Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Vince Jones said Saturday morning, Oct. 27.
They recommended the surrounding areas evacuate as well as Hurricane Sandy is expected to hit the area early in the week. This includes any area outside one of the five barrier islands, Jones said.
There are about 66,000 residents who live on the barrier islands, according to county officials.
Earlier today, Atlantic County declared a state of emergency as of 6 a.m. until further notice. There is no travel ban in effect, and the State of New Jersey is also under a declared State of Emergency.
Five shelters will be established, and those locations will be announced later in the day, Levinson said. Three shelters will be pet friendly, but carriers are required. The shelters will open early tomorrow. The casinos in Atlantic City will be closed.
“These shelters won’t be hotels,” Levinson said. “This is just so people have a place to go so they can get out of harm’s way.”
He said if residents have family and friends in other areas they can stay with, they should go there before heading to a shelter.
There are no plans to close roads outside the eastbound entry points.
“After 4 p.m. tomorrow, Sunday, the only people who should be on these islands are first responders,” Jones said during a press conference at the Anthony “Tony” Canale Training Center in Egg Harbor Township.
Evacuations are already underway, and Levinson and Jones recommended leaving as soon as possible.
“When people start leaving, it’s going to be bumper-to-bumper,” Levinson said, adding that area supermarkets are already running low on water and ice and there are almost no generators available in the county.
“Normally, storms move through here quickly, but we’re going to see several days of sustained winds and water,” Levinson said.
Finding a place to go may be difficult, as the entire county is expected to be “severely impacted,” and the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania are under declared states of emergency.
“We have to get people away from the wall of water that’s coming,” Levinson said.
The Atlantic County Office of Emergency Management has added to the height of the sand dunes on the barrier islands already, and preparations will continue to be made throughout the weekend.
“We have to close the rain water drains on the islands so the water doesn’t run off and go back to the beach,” Jones said.
Although the entire county is under a state of emergency and is expected to experience the impact, Jones doesn’t foresee any more evacuation orders coming down at this point.
“There will not be enough time,” Jones said. “We have to get those who will have their life threatened immediately out of the way of the wall of water. More people drown in these storms than anything else.”
He likened the amount of water the coastal areas will receive to a gallon jug being dumped into a 12-ounce cup.
Jones said the two worst case scenarios are expected to unfold.
“Our worst case preparations are for if a hurricane is coming directly at us, and that’s what’s happening” as opposed to going up the coast like Hurricane Irene did, Jones said. “For the northeast, the worst case scenario is for a hurricane to go up the Delaware Bay, and that’s also happening.
“Philadelphia is implementing their plans, Delaware is getting ready. New York City is getting ready for a hurricane. It’s a very large area.”