New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is considering whether to order mandatory evacuations in areas expected to be hardest hit by Hurricane Irene over the weekend.
On Thursday, Christie signed a declaration of a state of emergency to begin mobilizing emergency operations throughout the state.
"The current tracking is going to lead to, if it continues, a serious, significant event in the state," Christie said on Thursday.
The governor said state emergency officials are coordinating with officials from each of New Jersey's 21 counties.
All visitors and residents are being urged to voluntarily evacuate shore areas. The governor said he is tracking the progress of the hurricane to determine if he should order mandatory evacuations.
Col. Rick Fuentes, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police and director of the State OEM said by early Thursday, the storm track had wobbled westward and the eye of the hurricane could pass close to, or over, Cape May.
"The entire state is probably going to be subject to a pretty terrible rain event," said Fuentes.
Gov. Christie said local shelters will be opening soon and residents can find more information on the state's emergency website: ready.nj.gov.
Christie stressed on Thursday that residents and visitors should heed all warnings.
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"I understand that sometimes folks think that people overreact in this situation, let me assure you that we are not overreacting," said Christie. "We need to be ready for this and if we give advice that we want you to do things, like leave the shore in the next 24 hours, I hope that people will comply with that in a voluntary way and not force my hand in having to make it mandatory."
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