If you live within three-quarters of a mile of Delaware’s coastline in any of the state’s three counties, Governor Jack Markell’s mandatory evacuation order affects you.
The state’s mandatory coastal evacuation is now in effect. Because conditions on the roads are expected to deteriorate as the storm arrives, Governor Markell has encouraged all residents in the evacuation zone to get out by 9 a.m. Saturday.
Markell says residents should not underestimate the power of Hurricane Irene. “If this hurricane occurs in Delaware as currently predicted, the damage will be unlike anything seen in this state for more than 50 years. Do not take this lightly. Today is the day to act.”
Communities being evacuated in Sussex County include Fenwick Island, South Bethany, Bethany Beach, North Bethany, Dewey Beach, Rehoboth Beach, Henlopen Acres, Lewes, Broadkill Beach, Prime Hook Beach, Slaughter Beach, Long Neck, and Oak Orchard.
In Kent County, the evacuated communities include Woodland Beach, Pickering Beach, Kitts Hummock, Bowers Beach, South Bowers Beach, and Big Stone Beach.
Evacuated communities in New Castle County include the following areas in the City of New Castle: Buttonwood, Bull Hill – residences around Broad Dike; City residents from the River up to 3rd Street including the Strand, Deemers Beach, and the Twin Spans and Riveredge Industrial Parks. In Delaware City: Businesses and residences from Battery Park to 2nd Street, Governor Bacon Complex excluding the Tilton Bldg State Nursing Home, all residences in the 100 block of Fifth Street including Polktown Place and Delaware City Trailer Park. Areas along the coastal zone south of the C & D Canal east of East Route 9, to include Port Penn, Augustine Beach, Bay View Beach, and all residences east of Thomas Landing Road.
State officials have suspended toll collection on Route 1 in an effort to speed the evacuation process. Markell says once the storm hits, it will probably force DelDOT to close the Indian River Inlet Bridge due to flooding, and all bridges crossing the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal because of high winds.
Sussex County is expected to get the worst of the storm, but Kent and New Castle County will not be spared hurricane force winds and heavy rains. Sustained winds in Sussex County are expected to top 75 mph, with possible gusts to 100 mph. A storm surge of three to six feet is expected along the oceanfront, Delaware Bay and Inland Bays. The storm is expected to dump 7 to 10 inches of rain in Sussex.
Late Friday afternoon officials posted their evcauation map on the web showing the affected areas. Sussex County Council President President Michael Vincent urged residents to follow the Governor’s orders. “This is the most significant threat Sussex County and Delaware has faced in at least a generation, maybe even longer,” Vincent said. “We cannot stress how important it is for people to follow the advice of our emergency planners and use this time now to get out of harm’s way.”
“We’re getting it all,” says Governor Markell. “We’re getting very significant rains. We’re getting very significant winds, and we’re getting a significant storm surge.”