Ocean City Orders Mandatory Evacuations
With a hurricane bearing down on Cape May County, the city asks all residents and visitors to leave the island by Friday evening.
Ocean City has called for a mandatory evacuation of all residents and visitors as a powerful hurricane approaches Ocean City on a path that will be dangerously close in any scenario.
The Ocean City Office of Emergency Management released the following special statement at 6:13 p.m.:
As a result of the projected path of Hurricane Irene, a mandatory evacuation has been ordered for Ocean City and the entire County of Cape May. You are encouraged to make final preparations, secure your property and leave Ocean City as soon as possible, but no later than Friday evening.
If you have exhausted all options for obtaining transportation and lodging assistance from friends or family, please call 609-399-6111 during normal business hours on Friday. Check local television Channel 2 on the Comcast cable system or ocnj.us for continual updates as well as other information.
No detailed information on shelters, transportation or enforcement was included with the statement. But in a report at the City Council meeting early Thursday evening, Ocean City Business Administrator Mike Dattilo said the following:
- Ocean City High School will be used as a staging area for moving people without transportation.
- People will be transported to the Woodbine Developmental Center in Woodbine, which may serve as permanent or temporary shelter during the storm.
- There will be no restrictions on travel on or off the island on Friday.
- The beaches are closed effective immediately.
- The city has made "reverse 911" calls to notify residents of the Friday evening mandatory evacuation deadline.
The city's evacuation deadline of Friday evening is in conflict with a Cape May County order issued four hours earlier that calls for all residents of the county's barrier islands evacuate by end of Thursday (Aug. 25) and the rest of the county's residents to evacuate by 8 a.m. Friday. Ocean City's local order appears to take precedence.
The county's Evacuation Map provides guidance for the best routes off the island.
Hurricane Irene will pass directly over or very near Ocean City and other New Jersey coastal towns -- with the center of the storm arriving about 1 p.m. Sunday, WMGM TV-40 meteorologist Dan Skeldon said in a Thursday evening report.
Skeldon predicted the storm would arrive as a Category 2 storm (sustained winds between 96 and 110 miles per hour).
He said southern New Jersey can expect 10 or more inches of rain, winds of 75 mph or more in any scenario, severe tidal flooding and severe beach erosion.
With strong northeast winds coinciding with a Sunday morning new moon tide, the Cape May County coastline could see record high tides. High tide on Sunday morning is at 8:05 a.m. at the Ninth Street Bridge.
A three-week supply of plywood sheeting at Shoemaker Lumber was sold out in less than eight hours Thursday as residents took heed of dire warnings that Hurricane Irene had Ocean City on its hit list.
"We're out," said Harry Lord, a buyer with Shoemaker Lumber since 1978. "Wiped out."
The lumber yard had boarded up its own windows across the bottom of its building.
Lord estimates this is his 30th major storm warning in his 33 years at the lumber store, and says this one "could be the worst, from what we're hearing." The worst damage done at Shoemaker Lumber, which sits on low ground at 12th and West, occurred in December 1992. That nor'easter pushed 16 inches of water into the store, he said.
At 5 p.m. at Perry-Egan Chevrolet at 16th and Simpson, sales manager Barry Rothman said, "We've just started moving cars off the island." This is Rothman's first evacuation; he said the cars are destined for safer haven in Marmora.
"We are out of D-size batteries, slim on milk and bread, and lots of bottled water is going out of here, too," said A.J. Miller, customer service representative at Super Fresh at Eighth Street and West Avenue.
The Internet Cafe at 13th Street and West Avenue installed flood panels across their windows.
Hotel visitors at the Port-o-Call on Thursday afternoon were being refunded for weekend room reservations as the hotel, like others, will be closed during the mandatory evacuation. Saturday-to-Saturday renters of vacation homes were being told they would not be able to pick up keys until Monday.