County orders evacuation in preparation for Hurricane Sandy

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A man boards up 233 and 237 Beach Road in Ocean City in preparation for Hurricane Sandy. The structures are unprotected by dunes. A man boards up 233 and 237 Beach Road in Ocean City in preparation for Hurricane Sandy. The structures are unprotected by dunes.

OCEAN CITY – With a storm of historic proportions headed toward the Jersey Shore, a mandatory evacuation of the barrier islands was issued late Friday by the Cape May County Office of Emergency Management. The county announced a voluntary evacuation Saturday before it becomes mandatory Sunday.

Hurricane Sandy, predicted to make landfall Tuesday between Ocean City, Md., and Ocean City, N.J., could bring record-setting floods and extended power outages to the area as it is on a collision course with a winter storm. Variously called “Frankenstorm,” “the Halloween Hurricane” and “a nor’easter on steroids” by national weather forecasters, the hybrid storm is predicted to linger through as many as eight high tides while a high pressure system to the north holds it in place.

While New Jersey is generally spared by hurricanes, forecasters say the state will not escape this one as the jet stream is acting to pull Sandy toward the coast. No forecast models predict Sandy will turn out to sea. 

Heavy rains, high winds and major coastal flooding will accompany the storm, which will turn from a hurricane to a nor’easter after it comes ashore, preventing it from weakening as a hurricane usually would upon making landfall.

“We have been tracking the storm since early in the week along with county and state emergency management officials,” city business administrator Mike Dattilo said Friday. “The largest preparatory measures have been on the beach where DPW has been harvesting sand all week to bolster those areas most vulnerable.”

The Department of Public Works, which piled up sand around Waverly Boulevard on the north end of the island and between 55th and 58th streets in the south end on Thursday, continued shoring up the beaches by blocking access paths along the Boardwalk on Friday. A double line of sand was mounded at the access to 23rd Street.

City officials caution that experience with previous storms is no way to gauge Hurricane Sandy’s behavior.

“Each storm has its own personality,” said Laurie Howey, public information officer for the city. “You can’t judge from the past.”

For Dattilo, the Halloween 1991 storm was personally the most damaging as he lost a car in that one. For Howey, the benchmark is the November 2009 nor’easter, which brought flood waters into her Simpson Avenue home.

“I literally woke up to my cat swimming at the foot of my bed,” she said.

Officials advise residents to take precautionary measures to secure their properties and to make arrangements for accommodations off the island. Dattilo said if a shelter or staging area for evacuation becomes necessary, it will be at Ocean City High School.

Residents can receive updates on Hurricane Sandy from the city web site at www.ocnj.us, where links to frequently asked questions, information and resources from the Ocean City Office of Emergency Management, and a notice to contractors are posted. Information is also available at www.ready.nj.gov.

In the event of loss of power, residents are advised to listen to the radio stations listed on the county web site.

While forecasting technology has improved since the Perfect Storm of 21 years ago, some things remain the same.

“The best advice hasn't changed,” Dattilo said. “Pay close attention to forecasts and changing conditions and follow directions of local emergency management offices.”

Ocean City Beach Patrol headquarters at First Street are protected by a mound of sand pushed into place by the city in an attempt to blunt the damage from Hurricane Sandy. Ocean City Beach Patrol headquarters at First Street are protected by a mound of sand pushed into place by the city in an attempt to blunt the damage from Hurricane Sandy.

Homes along Beach Road, located in the beach and dune zone, are framed by the porch at the Beach Grill. Homes along Beach Road, located in the beach and dune zone, are framed by the porch at the Beach Grill. Unlike some structures that are protected by dunes in the beach and dune zone, the Beach Grill is not, making it especially vulnerable to damage from Hurricane Sandy. Unlike some structures that are protected by dunes in the beach and dune zone, the Beach Grill is not, making it especially vulnerable to damage from Hurricane Sandy. A front-end loader dumps another load of sand onto a mound at 23rd Street in Ocean City. A front-end loader dumps another load of sand onto a mound at 23rd Street in Ocean City. Sand is piled high at the bottom of the Third Street ramp on the Ocean City Boardwalk. Sand is piled high at the bottom of the Third Street ramp on the Ocean City Boardwalk. Three bulldozers move sand into a second line of defense at 23rd Street in Ocean City, an attempt to keep the ocean from surging off the beach when Hurricane Sandy makes landfall. Three bulldozers move sand into a second line of defense at 23rd Street in Ocean City, an attempt to keep the ocean from surging off the beach when Hurricane Sandy makes landfall.

 


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