With two hours to go before authorities shut down access to all roads leading to Ocean City, sirens blared and a loudspeaker system on the boardwalk and downtown warned people to evacuate immediately.
In homes on the island, a reverse 911 call issued the same stark warning.
Ocean City is under a mandatory evacuation order as a massive storm moves up the coast and threatens to make landfall just north of the island in central New Jersey.
The Route 52 causeway saw a steady stream of cars leaving the island that began to trickle as the afternoon wore on. But at the same time, it appeared that a good number of residents were prepared to ignore the evacuation order and ride out the storm.
Even with the storm still hundreds of miles away, storm surf was pounding at Ocean City beaches on Sunday afternoon. The geotubes buried at Waverly Beach in a dune restoration project after a devastating 2009 nor'easter already were exposed with the worst of the storm yet to come.
Sheets of wind-driven rain fell on the Boardwalk, but that didn't stop some residents and visitors from taking a last glimpse before evacuating or taking shelter.
NJ Transit buses made their final runs to Ocean City. Downtown merchants made last-minute preparations to secure their properties. And residents seeking higher ground for their vehicles filled the parking lot at the closed Super Fresh at Eighth Street and West Avenue.
The worst of the storm is expected to come on Monday with high tides at 8:27 a.m. and 8:46 p.m.