The Coast Looks Like a Ghost Town

Most of the area under states of emergency as evacuations continue as Hurricane Irene approaches

For the first time ever SEPTA will be ceasing operations on all trolleys, buses and trains starting Sunday at 12:30 a.m. and lasting through the storm and beaches from Delaware to the Jersey Shore are deserted as Hurricane Irene storms towards our area.

Many shore towns are under MANDATORY evacuations and people from Delaware to the Lehigh Valley hit stores Friday to get ready for Irene.

"Get the hell off the beach... You've maximized your tan," warned New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Friday afternoon.

By Friday night it seemed many people heeded Christie's advice as the Atlantic City Boardwalk looked like a ghost town.

Christie signed a state of emergency Thursday in advance of the monster storm and bluntly warned, "Do not go to the shore this weekend."

"I want everybody who is already at the shore area out by mid-day tomorrow," Christie said Thursday. "Let me assure you we are not overreacting."

"Tolls will be suspended on Garden State Parkway south of Raritan River & AC Expressway beginning at 8:00am Friday morning," tweeted Christie later in the day. And inbound traffic to Cape May and Atlantic County barrier islands was stopped at 6 p.m. Friday.

A curfew was put in effect for all of Atlantic Co. starting at 9 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Saturday. The order doesn't apply to people evacuating.

Officials called for a mandatory evacuation for Cape May County and other locations.

To assist those down the shore, the Cape May County Bridge Commission stopped charging tolls on all Ocean Drive bridges as of 8 a.m. on Friday.

Delaware is also preparing for the worst. Gov. Jack Markell also declared a state of emergency and mandatory evacuation of all beach towns to be completed by 6 a.m. Saturday.

“There will likely come a point during the day on Saturday when winds will require us to shut the bridges over the C&D canal and concerns about flooding will require closing the Indian River Inlet Bridge,” Markell said. “People need to reach their destinations well before we reach those closure points on Saturday.”

Tolls along Del. Route 1 were suspended to help ease traffic.

The University of Delaware has postponed opening weekend until further notice. They are telling students who are on campus to drop off their belongings and return home.

All activities at the university are canceled and classes will not begin on Tuesday, August 30. No word on when classes will start.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett joined New Jersey and Delaware Friday by calling for a state of emergency.

President Barack Obama urged citizens to listen to their local and state government officials and be personally prepared for the worst when the "historic" Irene hits your area.

“I cannot stress this highly enough, if you are in the projected path of this hurricane you have to take precautions now,” the president said Friday.

Local municipalities from Bensalem to Lower Merion to Camden were putting emergency plans in place. A state of emergency was declared in Wilmington with mandatory evacuations of southeast Wilmington called for by Saturday at 6 p.m.

In Philadelphia, Mayor Michael Nutter held a press conference telling citizens that they can call 3-1-1 throughout the weekend to get information on the storms and emergency alerts.

“Only call 911 if you have a real, life-threatening emergency," Nutter said.

Nutter announced that for the first time in history, SEPTA will shut down all modes of transportation midnight Saturday. All Philadelphia parks and recreational centers will close 6 p.m. Saturday.

Nutter said residents should be prepared, stay informed and expect flooding and power outages.

For residents who don't have family or friends to stay with in case of emergency, Nutter said the city is opening shelters at Bartram High School, Lincoln High School and Roxborough High School 6 p.m. Saturday.

Nutter said if you have any pets -- bring them with you.

“Do not attempt to drive your car [through flooded streets]," Nutter said. "You will get stuck in water and put yourself and the people you are with at risk.”

Also to make things easier on drivers the PPA will be offering free street parking and $5 garage parking in Center City during the storm.

St. Joseph's University has canceled the move-in date for Saturday. Classes on Monday were also canceled. Classes will resume on Tuesday -- weather permitting.

The Phillies announced that they will not play Sunday -- playing Sunday's game at 1:05 Saturday. But on Friday they announced the game originally set for Saturday night against the Florida Marlins would be postponed until Sept. 15 -- the 1:05 game is still a go.

Officials have already canceled trips for the Cape May-Lewes Ferry because of the angry lady. Departures from Lewes, Del., are canceled for 9:30 p.m. Saturday and 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

The vessels will not depart Cape May at 8:30 p.m. Saturday and at 10:15 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. on Sunday.

Also all planes were being evacuated from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Friday.

The National Weather Service hasn't issued any watches or warnings just yet, but there is a possibility of severe thunderstorms with damaging winds and heavy downpours later Thursday.

Meteorologist Bill Henley says that the worst of Irene will hit the area early Sunday, with very heavy rain and strong, gusty winds.

Officials in North Carolina have already ordered hundreds of thousands of tourists to evacuate Thursday, and coastal Dare County ordered all residents to move inland beginning 8 a.m. Friday.

The Navy in Norfolk, Va. began moving dozens of ships out to sea from ports in Irene's path Thursday.

Emergency officials all the way to New England urged residents in low-lying areas to gather supplies and prepare a plan to stay safe. And in New York City, residents in low lying areas were being forced to evacuate.

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