Hundreds of evacuees from the Jersey shore arrived in Trenton by busloads overnight into Saturday morning as the first winds from Hurricane Irene began blowing in New Jersey. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says more than 1 million people have evacuated the New Jersey shore in advance of Hurricane Irene. He says more than 90 percent of people in living in some of the most vulnerable spots have left.
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Mandatory evacuations were in effect for all of Cape May County, Long Beach Island and coastal communities in Atlantic and Ocean counties as the shore has emptied out since Friday. Forecasters have said the state will feel the worst effects of the storm by Sunday morning.
The New York Post reports that the state is busing people in from shore communities to the Sun National Bank Center in Trenton as a staging area and may also make the Izod Center in Newark available if more shelter space is needed.
Gov. Chris Christie has urged people to use shelters only as a means of last resort and public transportation around the state was expected to come to a halt by midday Saturday.
Atlantic City casinos were closed for only the third time since 1978, the other two instances being Hurricane Gloria in 1985 and once because of a state government shutdown in 2006.. Senior citizens living in several high-rise buildings in Atlantic City have refused to leave their dwellings. NBC 4 reports that officials sent buses to those buildings and police are trying to talk those seniors into leaving their homes, Christie said. "Please allow us to help protect you," he said.
Across the Hudson from Manhattan, Hoboken has issued a mandatory evacuation order for all ground-floor units.
While it weakened some late Friday, Hurricane Irene is still supposed to hit New Jersey — or pass very close by — as a Category 1 storm with winds of more than 75 miles per hour and torrential rains.
Six to 10 inches of rain is expected to cause flooding along rivers and streams all over New Jersey, many of them already were swollen after a rainy August.
A storm surge could raise water levels by 3 to 6 feet along the seacoast and the Raritan and Delaware bays. The effect could be even bigger if the storm arrives, as expected, in conjunction with an abnormally high tide around dawn Sunday.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.