With a powerful storm currently expected to make landfall somewhere near Ocean City early on Tuesday and possibly bring record flooding, emergency management officials are calling for a mandatory evacuation of the island starting on Sunday.
"After conferring with state officials Friday morning, the county’s position and the state’s recommendation is that there will be voluntary evacuation of the barrier islands and Delaware Bay communities tomorrow (Saturday, Oct. 27) and mandatory evacuation on Sunday (Oct. 28)," Cape May County Emergency Management Director Gerald Thornton said in a statement posted on the county's website Friday evening.
"However, if the storm direction intensifies or changes we will modify this directive," he said.
Ocean City Business Administrator Mike Dattilo confirmed that local officials would issue the same directive to Ocean City residents and property owners.
He said further details on the evacuation and shelters would be released on Saturday morning.
But Dattilo confirmed that access to all roads in Ocean City would be unrestricted on Saturday, and residents are encouraged to secure their properties in advance of the evacution.
He said roads and the causeways will be restricted at some point on Sunday.
Ocean City last ordered a mandatory evacuation as what was then Hurricane Irene approached the island in August 2011. That order came at the height of the summer tourist season and was the first time that Ocean City had been evacuated since Hurricane Gloria in 1985.
The Ocean City Office of Emergency Management issued the following release on Friday evening:
The Ocean City Office of Emergency Management continues to advise residents, visitors and property owners to closely monitor weather conditions and forecasts to stay informed about the possible effects from Hurricane Sandy.
Recent information received from the National Weather Service indicate that it is now a certainty that this storm will affect our area during the Sunday, October 28 through Tuesday, October 30, timeframe with very high winds, heavy rain and major beach erosion and coastal flooding. The seriousness of these affects will depend on the exact track and timing of the storm.
You are advised to complete preparations to protect yourself, your family and your property by the end of the day on Saturday. Secure all loose items on and around your property or bring them inside.
Access to Ocean City for those who need to secure properties will be maintained throughout the day on Saturday. Access to Ocean City is likely to be prohibited at a time to be determined on Sunday.
Please check www.ocnj.us and Ocean City’s Government Access Channel 2 for further updates.
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