The Route 72 Causeway Bridge headed east will shut down after 4 p.m. tomorrow, according to police and fire officials gathered at a first responders' meeting held earlier today in Harvey Cedars. The westbound lanes of the bridge will be shut down when winds reach 40 mph, police said.
Although traffic will be able to leave the island after 4 p.m., Stafford Police Chief Joseph Giberson stressed the importance of residents vacating as soon as possible.
Giberson and Long Beach Island first responders made the decision about the Causeway bridge after being told at the meeting, by a National Weather Service officials that "flooding in all bay/lagoon communities could reach as high as five to seven feet above the top of bulkheads."
"Look at your high tide table and add five feet on top of that," Jim Eberwine, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service told the group of first responders via speaker phone. "In all my years with the weather service, I haven't seen anything quite like this." Eberwine said that LBI residents should expect to see flooding and erosion problems.
Also today, the Stafford Township Office of Emergency Management ordered a voluntary evacuation of the following areas of Stafford Township for today, and expected to issue a mandatory evacuation order for these areas around noon tomorrow:
Beach Haven West
Bayside (Mud City)
Cedar Bonnet Island
Cedar Run Dock Road
A similar order was issued for Barnegat and Waretown.
According to a press release from Barnegat Police Lt. Keith Germain:
"Voluntary evacuations are now in effect, and will become mandatory as of noon tomorrow for:
Areas along and north of Bayshore Drive including all lagoon streets, Pebble Beach section and Crosswinds in Barnegat.
Areas east of Lower Shore Road from East Bay Avenue to Barnegat/Stafford border. This would include both Mills and Powell Lanes to be evacuated, in Barnegat.
All areas east of Main Street in Waretown.
All areas east of Seventh Street in Waretown.
Bay Parkway from State Route 9 to bay in Waretown."
An emergency shelter for Barnegat and Ocean Township residents will be at the Brackman Middle School, located on Barnegat Boulevard North in Barnegat Township. The shelter will open at noon on Sunday, October 28, 2012.
Residents in need of shelter from LBI or Stafford should go to Southern Regional High School 11-12 building on Cedar Bridge Road. The shelter will open on Sunday at noon.
Any resident in need of evacuation assistance or transportation should call the Barnegat Police at at (609) 698-5000, the Ocean Township Police Department at (609) 693-4007 or Stafford Township Police at 609-597-8581.