The Nor'easter formerly known as Ida has been wreaking havoc at the Jersey Shore, causing flooding, school and business closings, road barricades, bridge closures and island evacuations.
Driving is so hazardous, tolls have been lifted in some areas for the brave souls willing to challenge the elements.
The slow moving storm is creeping its way up the East Coast bringing strong winds, driving rains and high surf. Sustained winds have been clocked at 30-40 m.p.h. with gusts up to 60 m.p.h. Waves are cresting as high as 19 ft. and floodwaters rose in towns up and down the coast.
Police requested the Department of Public Works to barricade the side streets in the Schellingers Landing area of Lower Township after tidal flooding made the roads impassable. Tolls have been lifted by the Cape May County Bridge Commission for the Middle Thorofare and Ocean City Longport Bridges until Saturday at 8 a.m.
The George Redding Bridge and West Wildwood bridge are closed. Officials reopened the Ocean 34th Street bridge and Ocean City Longport bridge Friday, but the Ocean City 9th Stree bridge remains closed.
Authorities made a sad discovery late Thursday, recovering a man's body floating in thigh-high floodwaters. They believe his death was accidential.
Ocean City, N.J. lived up to its namesake as water from both the ocean and bay washed ashore Friday. 15-foot high dunes were reduced to mere hills on the beach. Businesses and homes along the back bay were under feet of water as the island saw its worst flooding in years.
While 40 or 60 m.p.h. winds may seem tame when compared to what a hurricane may bring, those winds are expected to continually pound the coast for at least the next 12 hours. NBCPhiladelphia chief meteorologist Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz gives this explanation:
"In a hurricane let's say you have a 80 m.p.h. peak wind, you might get that wind for one hour or two, now we're talking about 24, 48, 72 hours worth of wind coming from the same direction and it just keeps piling the water up and up and up and that is what's causing this big problem."
In a press conference Thursday, officials advised residents living on the western side of the barrier islands to leave.
"We are asking everyone if they see water in lying areas to please not drive through it, to secure any outside furniture and anything that could be gone away with the wind," Cape May County community director Lenora Bonifante said.
Officials signed an emergency declaration at 6 p.m. Thursday giving them access to the N.J. National Guard for additional help. A state of emergency was also declared for Kent and Sussex counties in Delaware.
Floodwaters had already begun to crest over the sea wall in West Wildwood Thursday evening. NBCPhiladelphia reporter Ted Greenberg and his crew narrowly escaped stranding as the waters crept upward.
"The water around our live van got so high we were afraid we were gonna lose the van," Greenberg said via phone. "The water was actually coming up to the doorways, it was over the exhaust pipe...and that was not even at the height of high tide."
Emergency shelters will be opened as needed, officials said. They continue to stress that while evacuations aren't mandatory, it is better to be safe than sorry.