ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency Saturday for three New Jersey shore counties that were expected to get the brunt of heavy rains and winds spurred by Tropical Storm Hermine.
The Republican governor made the declaration for Atlantic, Cape May and Ocean counties. It activates the state’s emergency operations plan, broadens the powers of the state police — particularly for traffic control — and allows the National Guard to help with rescue or cleanup if necessary.
It also allows towns to order mandatory evacuations, though no such directives had been issued as of Saturday afternoon. However, officials in many coastal towns were urging residents to move themselves and their vehicles inland as a precaution.
Heavy traffic has been reported on routes leading away from the shore, as residents and visitors make their ways to safer areas, officials said.
Though the storm’s ultimate track remained uncertain Saturday afternoon, forecasters and officials were warning residents to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
“The biggest threats from this storm will be coastal impact, which could be near record in Cape May County, said Valerie Meola, a meteorologist with National Weather Service’s office in Mount Holly. “We will be keeping an eye on that throughout the weekend.”
As much as 2 to 4 inches of rain was possible throughout the weekend, with possibly higher localized amounts in shore towns. But inland areas will likely see much less rain and impact from the storm, Meola said.
Tropical Storm warnings remained in effect for most of the Jersey coastline, as the storm is expected to bring heavy wind and flooding. The National Weather Service says coastal flooding will likely begin with high tide Saturday night.
Swimmers were being kept out of the water Saturday as strong winds and heavy surf were reported.
The storm is expected to hover off the New Jersey and Delaware coast on Sunday and Monday. Forecasters warned that storm surge flooding could damage buildings near the coast.
BEACH CONCERT CANCELLATIONS
Atlantic City officials canceled two weekend beach concerts due to the impending storm.
Florida Georgia Line was due to play on Saturday, while Blink-182 was scheduled for Monday. The two shows were the second and third of the long weekend after a concert by the Zac Brown Band on Thursday drew an estimated 20,000 fans.
Mayor Don Guardian said the city made the move due to concerns about damaging winds from Tropical Storm Hermine.
“Out of an abundance of caution for concertgoers, staff and the bands, and everyone else involved, we have decided to cancel this weekend’s beach concerts,” Guardian said in a statement issued Friday night.
The city’s other attractions, including its casino resorts, were expected to remain open throughout the weekend.
A few hundred utility customers were without power Saturday afternoon due to storm-related outages, but utility crews were able to quickly make repairs and restore service to nearly all customers.
But utility officials were warning customers that more outages were likely as the storm made its way through the region. It’s expected that strong winds will knock down some power lines and trees.