As Hurricane Sandy’s final path towards the mid-Atlantic comes into focus, Delaware officials are expanding their warnings to residents. Businesses in the evacuation zone and now driving state-wide are impacted.
Governor Jack Markell is putting into effect a level one state wide driving warning. That means the only people who can be on the road are people who have a safety, health or business reason to do so. Earlier, Governor Markell ordered any business operating inside the mandatory evacuation zone to close by 6pm Sunday.
Downstate starts to feel it
The evacuation zone is the area about three-quarters of a mile from the coast and any flood prone area in New Castle, Kent and western Sussex County. Del Dot has also waived tolls in both directions along Route 1, and a section of Route 1 has been closed between Dewey and Bethany Beach because of flooding. Sussex County officials also say sections of the Prime Hook reserve are also being hit by early flooding. Govenor Markell toured Sussex County on Sunday and was a part of the video update from Sussex County.
Our content partner, Coastal Point, reports traffic was heavy, but managable along Route 26 and 54. There were still people inside the evacuation zone. Some said they wanted to ride out the storm. The order is in effect until 8pm Sunday. Gov. Markell said on Saturday after that point the state couldn’t guarantee it could help people get out of the area. Reporter Maria Counts says the majority of the businesses in Bethany Beach were boarded up.
DART officials said Sunday all fixed route bus service will be suspended on Monday as will SEPTA regional rail service in New Castle County. Paratransit service won’t run either. Only emergency paratransit service will take place on Monday.
Wilmington City officials want to emphasize that the evacuation order for the southeast part of the city IS still in effect. Erroneous phone calls went out earlier on Sunday to say the evacuation order had been cancelled. New messages were sent out to correct the mistake later on Sunday.
Shelters now in operation as well.
As Sandy moved closer to its inevitable strike on the mid-Atlantic Coast the state wanted to remind residents they could call their county emergency centers as well:
§ Sussex EOC – 856-7366 starting Sunday at 8 a.m.
§ Kent EOC – 735-3465, starting Sunday at noon
§ New Castle County EOC – 395-5555 starting Sunday at noon
§ Wilmington EOC – 576-CITY starting Sunday at 9 a.m.
The Delaware Helpline at 1-800-464-HELP (4357) is also operational.
High Tide is set for about 8pm. Weather officials expect things to get progressively worse Monday morning into late Tuesday.
Many places are closed Monday
Schools have been closed across Delaware, according to the state website.
The storm has also cancelled Tuesday’s debate among the candidates for the U.S. Senate. Widner Law School has joined the list of Colleges and Universities, which have called off classes on Monday and Tuesday. The debate was supposed to have aired on WHYY TV on Wednesday at 5pm. There have been emails from both the state GOP and Democratic parties urging residents to heed the warnings of state officials. Delaware State University has extended its class cancellation until Tuesday as well.
State workers have been told to stay home on Monday. Only essential employees are to report as scheduled. New Castle County and the city of Newark issued the same type order saying most workers should stay home on Monday.
Delmarva power warns of long recovery period
State and utility officials warn residents the hardest part of the storm could be the amount of time it takes to return to full power. Delmarva Power has implemented what it calls its Incident Response Plan. Once the storm is over, the company said, it will begin repairs in a way that return the largest numbers of costumers first. That could mean delays up to a week for some residents.