New Jersey Governor Chris Christie declared a state of emergency today, as Hurricane Sandy barreled toward the U.S. East Coast and appeared headed to strike land near Delaware Bay.
Christie said the state is prepared for hurricane-force winds along portions of New Jersey’s Atlantic Ocean coastline. Delaware Bay, a body of water, separates Delaware from the southern coastline of New Jersey.
The governor ordered the mandatory evacuation of all the state’s barrier islands south of Sandy Hook and the closing of the state’s 12 casinos, both at 4 p.m. tomorrow. Emergency shelters are being activated in all 21 counties and 1,000 National Guard members have been deployed, he said.
“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,’” Christie told reporters today in the coastal community of Middletown, in central New Jersey. “Please don’t, OK? We have to be prepared for the worst here.”
Rick Fuentes, head of the New Jersey State Police, said a landfall near Delaware Bay could send a storm surge up the Delaware River, adding to the flooding threat in some portions of western New Jersey.
The system, which has killed as many as 43 people in the Caribbean, remained on track to hit the region sometime late on Oct. 29 or early Oct. 30. The cyclone is expected to bring high winds, rain and a tidal surge that may inundate some coastal areas. In addition, power to millions of people may be cut and airplanes grounded due to the storm.
Christie said the cyclone, dubbed “Frankenstorm’ by the National Weather Service, may knock down trees with its high winds, and the fact leaves are still on many trees may lead to more broken limbs, which compound outages. He said the storm may leave some people without power for as many as 10 days.
In addition, he said some communities along the Hackensack and Passaic rivers need to prepare for flooding due to torrential rains. Christie yesterday ordered the state to begin lowering reservoirs to prevent flooding.
Christie, who said he was forced to cancel an Oct. 30 campaign event with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in Nevada, warned residents to stay off roads unless necessary and to avoid using generators indoors or “jerry-rigging” extension cords to deal with outages.
“If it looks stupid, it is stupid,” he said. “That’s the Jersey rule.”
Greg Matula, a spokesman for NuStar Energy LP, said in an e-mail the company is in the process of shutting down its refinery in the riverfront community of Paulsboro. The company has shut its Virginia Beach, Virginia, facility.