Anticipating severe weather conditions including high winds, rain, coastal, stream and river flooding, as well as Hurricane Sandy’s potential threat to public health and safety, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie declared a state of emergency today throughout the state. In addition to taking this step to mobilize government in preparation for the storm, Christie urged New Jerseyans to be vigilant in monitoring conditions of the storm and urged residents to make preparations for themselves and their families.
Christie announced a mandatory evacuation of the state’s barrier islands by Sunday afternoon. Residents should be off the islands by 4 p.m. Sunday. Casinos will also be closed beginning at 3 p.m. Sunday.
To ease travel, tolls northbound on the Garden State Parkway and westbound Atlantic City Expressway will be waived starting at 6 a.m. Sunday. State officials planned to monitor traffic and may impose the waiver even earlier.
Saturday evening the Christie Administration announced that preparations have officially begun for the potential shutdown of NJ TRANSIT bus, rail, light rail and Access Link service, effective Monday, October 29. This preliminary step is being implemented as the statewide transportation agency continues preparations for Hurricane Sandy. System-wide cross-honoring of all rail, bus and light rail tickets will start Monday at 12 a.m. and continuing through Wednesday at 6 a.m. to allow customers holding NJ TRANSIT tickets to use alternate means of transportation to get to their final destination, such as PATH, PATCO and private bus carriers. Due to the duration of the storm and the potential impact to the NJ TRANSIT system, the timeframe could be extended if necessary.
“The safety of our customers, employees and the public-at-large is paramount,” said NJ TRANSIT Board Chairman and New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner James Simpson. “By beginning this important process, NJ TRANSIT will be better able to support the state’s response to Hurricane Sandy by freeing up buses or other resources that may be needed for hurricane relief.”
The worst of the storm is expected to hit New Jersey Monday night, but rain and heavy winds are predicted to start on Sunday afternoon.
“As we move towards what is an increasingly likelihood of seeing Sandy make landfall in New Jersey, I am urging all New Jerseyans to take every possible and reasonable precaution to ready themselves for the storm’s potential impact. That means having an emergency action plan for their families and other loved ones who may require assistance, and avoiding unnecessary risks in the severe weather, including staying off of the roads,” Christie said. “At the state level, we are taking immediate steps to prepare for the storm’s impact and ensure that state, local and county governments have the tools they need to manage and respond in a coordinated way. With this, government at every level can respond more effectively to conditions on the ground, activate emergency operations plans, and ensure that resources are being marshaled to assist and protect the public through this storm.”
The declaration activates elements of the state emergency operations plan, broadening powers of the New Jersey State Police including traffic control, limiting access and egress from impacted areas and issuing evacuation orders if needed.
As provided by the declaration, the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management will be authorized to mobilize and deploy resources beginning immediately to respond to the storm conditions, including resources of the New Jersey State Police, New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and New Jersey Department of Transportation, in coordination with county and municipal emergency management officials in impacted areas throughout the state.