This story is updated here:
Mandatory Evacuation of Barrier Island at 4 p.m. - Toms River, http://patch.com/A-l1Fk
Toms River residents should be deep into preparations for Hurricane Irene Thursday as barrier island residents are being urged to relocate, public safety officials warned.
Residents on the barrier island are being urged to relocate to a safer inland location if there is one available.
“We are urging residents to act now to prepare for a severe weather situation,” said Toms River Police Captain Mitch Little.
Amid a state of emergency declared by Gov. Chris Christie, officials are asking residents of the barrier island to prepare to find shelter inland for the duration of the storm, expected to hit New Jersey between Saturday night and Sunday morning.
Toms River Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Paul Daley said officials are meeting with Red Cross today to ready as many as 15 different sites in town as possible shelters.
At this hour, no shelters are needed, and depending on the impact of the storm, a particular public shelter site will be declared as it draws near, Daley said.
“We have as many as 15 options, depending on how it hits, will we need to use this one or that, or evacuate to neighboring areas, we’ll figure all of that out,” Daley said. Should a town-wide evacuation be necessary, it would likely send Toms River residents to schools in Manchester or Jackson for shelter.
This afternoon Daley and other public officials are meeting with Red Cross to further plan, he said. It’s been several days of preparation for Irene.
Much of what is being done focuses on the shoreline of Toms River, where flooding overtook Route 35 and 37 just two weeks ago from rain.
“We have signs up on Route 35 North and South to advise residents to prepare now and listen to WOBM FM 92.7 for updates,” Daley said. “We will be coming around in Fire Trucks, Ambulances, and Police Vehicles on the P.A. System advising of the situation and what to do. We would have buses at Dover-Brick First Aid Squad and at A&P Parking lot for anyone who needed transportation.”
Areas such as Ortley Beach, Dover Beaches, Ocean Beach, Pelican Island and neighboring communities of Seaside Park, Seaside Heights and Lavallette would all evacuate west over the Tunney Bridge of Route 37, should an evacuation be ordered.
Daley urged all residents to prepare at www.ready.gov
Christie, whose summer home is the governor’s mansion on Island Beach State Park, said residents should not be complacent and instead begin a voluntary evacuation now. He told reporters at a news conference this afternoon that he too will be leaving the barrier island mansion this afternoon.