State of Emergency Declared in Ocean County

Emergency management officials ramp up storm preparations

Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari has declared a state of emergency throughout Ocean County ahead of Hurricane Irene.

Vicari made the announcement at a press conference at the Ocean County Office of Emergency Management at the Robert J. Miller Airpark in Berkeley Township.

"Our goal is we don't want one life lost," Vicari said. "In our lifetimes, this is the biggest hurricane we've ever experienced."

Hurricane Irene is expected to be a "high Category 1" by the time the county begins to feel tropical force winds at noon on Saturday. The winds may or may not be accompanied by rain at first, said Michael Osborne, chief of the Ocean County Sheriff's Department.

Rain and wind will steadily increase into the evening hours on Saturday. The worst part of the storm should come in the early morning hours, Osborne said after the press conference.

All area hospitals in Ocean County are equipped with emergency generators and will be operating. The Ocean County Utilities Authority also has emergency generators in case of loss of power, Vicari said.

Ocean County Road Supervisor Thomas Curcio said crews are prepared for the storm with equipment and chainsaws.

"We're clearing the storm drains," he said. "We are planning on a lot of trees going down with the saturated ground. We feel we are ready for what's going to come our way."

Each municipality makes the decision to order mandatory or voluntary evacuations, County Administrator Carl W. Block said.

Residents who do not have to evacuate should "stay in the safety of your homes," Block said.

"We have crews deployed to open the roads and get the transportation open as soon as possible," he said. "This will not be something where you will see it go by Sunday afternoon and you'll be out playing basketball."

Ocean County Director of Senior Services Jane Maloney said the county will continue to deliver meals to "very frail" elderly and ill residents on Satuday, with the exception of Long Beach Island.

People who have been ordered to evacuate must comply, Vicari said.

"We are telling people their lives are in danger," he said. "It will happen. Don't be complacent. We can't stop 100 mile an hour winds. We can't stop a storm surge."

Vicari asked all county residents to use 911 only in an emergency. All other calls should be directed to local municipal police departments.

Vicari said he received a call from Gov. Chris Christie last night at home to discuss evacuation plans, especially on Long Beach Island.

"The governor made it very clear," Vicari said. "All the traffic will be leaving the island. He's encouraging everyone to leave."

Anyone with any questions may call the Ocean County Office of Emergency Management at 732-341-3451.

Linda Bohler August 27, 2011 at 01:16 AM
Scott Pezarras August 27, 2011 at 02:02 AM
KC You are in a low lying area if your area flooded during a Nor'easter, and if you pay flood insurance.
Nancy August 27, 2011 at 02:59 PM
Question - I'm just curious.....what happens if you live in a mandatory evacuation area & you refuse to leave your home?
BN August 27, 2011 at 03:13 PM
You forfeit your right to be rescued and will be face charges if anyone that you are responsible for (children, elderly parent) are killed or injured.
Greg August 28, 2011 at 02:53 PM
Panera Bread of Freehold will be closed Sunday and reopen Monday.


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