UPDATE (11:30 a.m.): The Holland and Brooklyn Battery tunnels will be closed this afternoon, and driving will be prohibited in Hoboken, with the brunt of Hurricane Sandy expected to hit New Jersey at 4 o’clock this afternoon. Forecasters predict an 11.7-foot surge around 9 o’clock tonight. Under the same circumstances, Hurricane Irene didn’t exceed 9.5 feet. Winds have already hit 90 mph as the center approaches the Jersey Shore.
“Don’t be fooled,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this morning. “Don’t look out the window and say, ‘It doesn’t look so bad.’ The worst is still coming. Keep yourself safe and use common sense.”
Unfortunately, that’s not happening everywhere.
“This area is under mandatory evacuation, but you would never know it from the people who are here now,” said a WPIX reporter standing on the Long Branch boardwalk with more than a dozen shouting, jumping spectators.
The group was evacuated from Sea Bright, she said.
For those who understand the threat and need to evacuate, a regional shelter is opening at noon at Bergen Community College (400 Paramus Road, Paramus). It can accommodate special needs and is domestic pet-friendly. Bring clothes, medications for yourself and/or family members, important documents, things to keep kids busy. If you bring a pet, have a carrier case or crate, leash, pet food, any medications, a water bowl and waste bags.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker urged citizens not to hesitate to protect themselves and their loved ones.
“This is an epic alignment of problems,” Booker said. “You have a full moon, you have high tide hitting at the same time as the storm surge. It is so unpredictable and how rapid the onslaught is going to be. So the time to move is right now.”
The storm is expected to in one way or another affect 1 in 5 Americans in the continental U.S. — nearly 50 million of whom live in the tri-state area.
“History is being written as an extreme weather event continues to unfold, one which will occupy a place in the annals of weather history as one of the most extraordinary to have affected the United States,” senior meteorologist Stu Ostro said this morning.
Flooding is the biggest concern in parts of Hudson County and at the Shore. Nearly all of Atlantic City already was under water at 11:30. The rest of the barrier islands could suffer the same fate.
Sinatra Park in Hoboken flooded early this morning this morning ( PHOTO RIGHT : by Kurt Gardiner). Edgewater also began taking on water a little before 10 o’clock.
Driving bans take effect in Jersey City at 2 o’clock and in Hoboken at 4.
In North Jersey, winds pose the greatest risk. They’ll be strong enough to knock down trees, which could rip down power lines and hit whatever is below ( PHOTO TOP : Meadow Road, Westwood).
Those in higher altitudes — from Alpine and Tenafly to Cliffside Park, Fairview and North Bergen — could get the worst of it.
Sandy’s winds have already hit 90 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 11 a.m. advisory. Onshore gusts have been reported at 54 mph in Harvey Cedars and 52 in Sea Girt.
- NJ News Commons , based at Montclair State, is pulling together information from various news sources across the state, including CLIFFVIEW PILOT . For the latest :
Of roughly 15,000 power outages reported before 9:30, most are in Monmouth County. About 4,000 were in North Jersey, as of 11 a.m.
All are schools are closed; many will continue to be tomorrow. NJ Transit has suspended all lines — trains, buses, light rail, ferries. PATH is suspended, as well, along with area airports.
We could see bridges and other tunnels closed, as well.
President Obama has signed an emergency declaration for New Jersey, making federal funding available for measures taken in advance of Sandy.
From The Weather Channel:
“High wind warnings extend from Maine to portions of Virginia, Ohio, West Virginia and into the southern Appalachians as far south as northeast Georgia. Coastal flood warnings extend up and down the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic coast. Flood watches for heavy rainfall dominate a large chunk of the Northeast. Hurricane-force wind warnings have been issued for the coastal waters of seven states. The clash of cold air diving into the eastern states plus moisture and strong winds from Sandy has prompted the issuance of blizzard warnings in the mountains of West Virginia! Winter storm warnings extend as far south as the North Carolina and Tennessee borders.”
“The hard reality is: Even if we do everything in our power, we can’t stop the storm and we can’t completely mitigate the effect it’s going to have,” Gov. Christie said yesterday, adding that he doesn’t want to see “lives lost unnecessarily.”
Measures have been taken to help mitigate the damage, the governor said.
Pompton Lake was lowered five feet — the most ever.
“Gates will be adjusted to maintain the 5-foot level until the rain begins,” Christie said during a news conference this afternoon at the Pompton Lakes Volunteer Fire House.
He also ordered mandatory evacuations yesterday or the barrier islands from Sandy Hook south to Cape May, including Atlantic City, Long Beach Island, Brick, Seaside Heights and Seaside Park, Toms River, Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, Ocean City and Sea Isle City.
Christie urged residents in vulnerable areas to move to county shelters. If they fill up, state-supported shelters will open.
Bergen County Community College, Lyndhurst senior center, Northern Valley Regional High School are ready to accept evacuees.
For a county-by-county listing of shelters: nj211.org
KEEP THESE NUMBERS HANDY (DON’T FORGET: 911 is for emergencies only and shouldn’t be used to check on power, phone or cable outages or to ask about road conditions.):
PSE&G Customer Service
: 1-800-436-7734 Also: www.twitter.com/psegdelivers
United Water: 201-487-0011
Rockland Electric: (877) 434-4100
Optimum: (201) 262-8600
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.