By Michelle Sartor
Residents throughout New Jersey are already feeling the effects of Hurricane Sandy, which are expected to last through Tuesday. The latest forecast predicts the hurricane will make landfall along the central New Jersey coast sometime late Monday afternoon or Monday night. Some have evacuated while others stocked up on supplies. Officials warn the storm could bring an unprecedented amount of flooding and cause power outages to many areas. Both have already been reported in some areas.
Gov. Chris Christie declared a State of Emergency for New Jersey and ordered the evacuation of some areas. He also announced that state offices will remain closed Tuesday and non-essential employees should stay home. Residents are advised to stay off the roads when possible and drive with extreme caution if necessary.
More than 250,000 Atlantic City Electric customers have already reportedly lost power. Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) has crews ready to restore power. According to the utility’s outage map, the greatest amount of customers without power as of 2:20 p.m. Monday was in Middletown Township with more than 5,000 customers in the dark. PSE&G reported 6,200 customers without power in New Jersey Monday afternoon. Customers can check the areas with the utility’s outage map.
NJ Transit has suspended all rail, bus, light rail and access link service until further notice.
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority plans to close both directions of the Garden State Parkway south of Interchange 129 in Woodbridge Township at 4 p.m. Monday. The Parkway has already been closed south of that area, from Cape May to Interchange 63 in Stafford Township.
The speed limit on the New Jersey Turnpike has been reduced to 45 miles per hour between the Delaware Memorial Bridge and Interchange 12 in Carteret in both directions. Motorcycles and car-pulled trailers are banned on the entire Turnpike.
The Holland Tunnel has been closed until further notice because of the storm.
Residents can learn more about the state’s travel conditions by visiting www.511nj.org.
Long Beach Island has already begun experiencing major flooding and the dunes in Beach Haven have been breached.
Atlantic City began evacuations at noon Sunday. Gaming activities stopped at 3 p.m. Sunday and casino and hotel properties closed at 4 p.m. Casinos are expected to lose $5 million per day in gambling revenue during the closures.
Christie announced mandatory evacuations of the Barrier Islands and Sea Bright by 4 p.m. Sunday and Sandy Hook is expected to see record amounts of flooding.
Those who live on the Barrier Islands began evacuating Saturday ahead of the storm.
The borough of Manasquan also issued a mandatory evacuation order saying residents must be gone by 2 p.m. Sunday.
The Route 72 bridge to Long Beach Island is closed to traffic. That started at 4 p.m. Sunday. Point Pleasant Beach also ordered evacuations for residents east of the NJ Transit railroad tracks by 4 p.m. Sunday.
The Red Cross is also preparing for the storm in New Jersey by getting shelters ready and keeping in contact with government officials.
PSE&G estimates that 500,000 to 1 million customers may lose power during Hurricane Sandy. The utility company says crews will be ready to respond as soon as heavy winds subside. Utility workers and contractors from various states not affected by the storm and Quebec, Canada are expected to arrive Sunday and be available to help restore power.
JCP&L says customers should be prepared for power outages lasting seven to 10 days because of Hurricane Sandy. The utility says hundreds of FirstEnergy personnel will be on hand to help with power restoration, along with nearly 1,000 tree contractors to aid with removal of fallen trees.
Saturday was a day of preparation for many, with New Jerseyans stocking up on food, gas, batteries and flashlights. Some left their homes to go to an area where the storm likely won’t hit as hard while others prepared to be indoors for the duration of the storm.
While the storm is expected to be worse in the southern part of New Jersey, North Jersey residents may also experience severe flooding and power outages. Officials there also encourage residents to be prepared.