Governor Jack Markell says, “It’s quite likely in the next few hours that we’re going to extend the mandatory evacuation to [residents] as well.”
Markell gave that warning during a live interview on MSNBC from WHYY’s Wilmington studios this morning.
The evacuation order was issued Thursday to visitors to the beaches, and Markell could issue the evacuation order for residents when he briefs the media on storm preparations at 11 am.
Markell says the Federal Emergency Management Agency has stationed some staff in Delaware ahead of the storms anticipated arrival in Delaware between Saturday night and Sunday morning. “We’re going to have a couple people from FEMA who are here, to help us reach out to the federal government for the financial support, but my concern right now is less about the money, once a life is lost, you can’t unlose it.”
According to Tom Thunstrom, primary forecaster at Phillyweather.net, Hurricane Irene will cause its greatest impacts in the beach towns of Sussex County and along Delaware Bay. The combination of east winds pushing water across the bay will lead to initial bay flooding in Kent and Northern Sussex County early on Sunday, with impacts shifting down the bay as winds veer around to the north and northwest later on Sunday morning or towards midday. This will cause some coastal flooding concerns in Lewes (which faces north into Delaware Bay).
Water levels could reach four to perhaps eight feet above average at the brunt of the storm. Wind impacts will be highest at the Beaches, with gusts potentially reaching over 80 mph at the brunt of the storm. Even inland at Wilmington, wind gusts could reach 50-60 mph at the brunt of the storm. Rainfall totals on the order of five to ten inches statewide will lead to flooding of streams, rivers, and some roadways. The combination of wind and rain could lead to power outages across a chunk of the state as well if the storm plays out as it looks like it should.
Compared to yesterday, the timing of the brunt of the storm has sped up slightly, with the storm poised to track through a bit earlier on Sunday. Conditions should begin to improve late in the afternoon from south to north across Delaware, with Monday a much better day for cleanup after the storm.