Evacuations Ordered Along New Jersey Coast

Robert Siegel talks with Joel Rose, who traveled along the coast of northern New Jersey, about the impact of Hurricane Sandy.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And now, to NPR's Joel Rose, who's been traveling around the Jersey Shore today. Hi, Joel.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Hi, Robert.

SIEGEL: Let's begin by your telling us where you've been and what you've seen.

ROSE: Well, I've been driving from one end of northern New Jersey and then down towards central Jersey. And I have to say that this is the most intense winds we've seen all day and just been picking up in the last hour, so the rain is really blowing sideways. I can see, in a grove of trees just across the street from our hotel, several trees that have toppled over and several more that look like they're about to. Earlier in the day before the wind picked up, we did manage to drive through a number of little towns. Everywhere we went, we saw downed tree limbs, a few downed power lines, downed signs. The situation changes pretty drastically from one town to the next - that was striking to me. Some towns still seem to have power, others don't. Some towns are mostly dry and others already have a fair bit of water in the streets.

SIEGEL: And where was that flooding the worst from what you saw?

ROSE: The worst flooding that we saw today was up in Monmouth County, which is sort of in the northeastern corner of New Jersey. We saw a lot of flooding in the streets of Long Branch and Monmouth Beach, two shore towns up there. And in fact, that's about as far as we could go because all the roads were blocked with several feet of water, which is already starting to seep up to a couple of homes. We saw a lot people who live in the area who'd pretty much given up on driving and had started walking, trying to get to their houses on foot.

And I talked to one man named Michael Kirsch(ph), who is trying got get to his home in Sea Bright, New Jersey. And he couldn't get there because the water in the street was up to his knees, and he seemed pretty worried because that was at low tide. And high tide, as Larry mentioned, isn't expected until about 8 p.m. tonight.

MICHAEL KIRSCH: Right now it's three hours past low tide. So if the worst tide is coming, 8 o'clock tonight is going to be pretty bad, I think. So far we're going to get water in the house, I think.

ROSE: And if there's water in Michael Kirsch's house, I'm sure there'll be water in others too.

SIEGEL: Now, Joel, a number of towns up and down the shore have issued mandatory evacuation orders. We heard earlier Governor Chris Christie talking about the need to take those seriously. But it seems that as always happens in these situations, a lot of people have not obeyed those orders.

ROSE: That's the case. I mean, it seems to vary. I think a lot of people have made for higher ground or have spent the night in hotels. It's certainly very difficult to find a hotel room near the shore right now. But I think a lot of people have tried to ride out the storm at home. I think a lot of people are taking their cues from Tropical Storm Irene last year, which produced a lot of power outages but not a whole lot else. And so, you know, we talked to a lot of people who are prepared with generators and food and other supplies because they're planning to ride out the storm at home. I wonder, though, if a lot of those people may now be second guessing that decision now that they've seen the, you know, the full extent of the wind and the flooding concerns that are really only now becoming apparent.

SIEGEL: Yeah. Thanks, Joel.

ROSE: You're welcome.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Joel Rose on the Jersey Shore.

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