Sandy forces Delaware into a limited state of emergency

A mandatory limited evacuation has been order by Governor Jack Markell (D-Delaware) over a 24 hour period from 8pm Saturday to 8pm Sunday.

The city of Wilmington has order a mandatory evacuation for the southeast section of the city beginning at noon on Sunday.

The state evacuation order covers all beach communities in Sussex County within three-quarters of a mile from the coast. All bay communities in Kent County are also affected. In New Castle County low lying communities along the Delaware River, such as, Delaware City and Port Penn are also affected by the order. The Governor added that flood prone towns in Western Sussex County should also heed the warning.

Markell said the reason behind the order was to set up an orderly flow of aid once the storm hits. He said no one would be forced to leave, but he added, “people have to take responsibility for their actions. If they don’t leave it makes it difficult for first responders (police and fire) to do their job effectively.”

The Governor and Emergency Management Director, Jaime Turner said people should expect to be without power for days. He said if people don’t heed the warning there might be areas where nothing can be done for them. “The bay communities such as Bowers Beach, which has been cut off in the past, will almost certainly be flooded.”

He added that the order does not affect businesses. They will not be ordered closed. The same situation applies to schools. He said that decision will be a district by district one.

There will be shelters open Sunday at noon. Markell described it as a bare bones living situation. “You’ll have a space on the floor,” he said. “You should bring your own bedding and games to play. There will be some food there.”

Preparations were being made in beach communities like Rehoboth and Dewey Beaches.  Boats were being pulled out of the water.  Some residents prepared sandbags.  Benches were pulled off the boardwalk in Rehobth as soon as the Seawitch festival ended.  The surf started to kick up more and throughout the day. The Cape May Lewes ferry will suspend operations Sunday night until at least Tuesday. The last ferry leaves Cape May at 6pm. It returns from Lewes at 7:45 Sunday night.

Delaware State University has cancelled classes along with all “non-essential” operations on Monday. Students who can leave campus are encouraged to do so. The University of Delaware has added another day of cancelled classes. They won’t resume until Wednesday at the earliest.

The Governor’s team hopes by giving the order now it will give people time to get their homes in order and allow them to wait until morning to leave. Shailen Bhatt, DelDot Secretary says a decision will be made based on traffic volume as to whether tolls will be waived on Route 1 for people driving north. “We’ll block the toll lanes if we do that so people can drive through in the E-Z pass lane. That’s something we learned from Irene.”

Markell reminded residents of a situation in August of 2011 during Irene where a New Castle County resident was going to drive to Lewes to check on a second home there. He and his wife heard the warning issued then and stay home. “His home was hit by a tornado,” Markell said. “It saved his life.”

Turner said there were about 50,000 people affected by the evacuation order. He added the state needed to be on alert until the winds die down. Some forecasts say that could be Wednesday or Thursday.

The state of Delaware help line for updates is 1-800-464-HELP (4357).

Here is the list of evacuated communities:

Sussex County Delaware Bay Communities:

§  Slaughter Beach

§  Prime Hook Beach

§  Broadkill Beach

§  Lewes Beach, east of the Rehoboth Lewes canal

Sussex County Ocean Coastal Communities:

§ Flood-prone areas within ¾ of a mile of the coast in the following communities –

§  Henlopen Acres

§  Rehoboth Beach

§  Dewey Beach

§  North Bethany

§  Bethany Beach

§  South Bethany

§  Fenwick Island

Sussex County Inland Bay Communities:

§  Areas surrounding the Rehoboth Bay, Indian River and Little Assawoman Bay

§  Flood-prone areas south of Route 24 (John J. Williams Highway) including Angola, Long Neck and Oak Orchard

§  Flood-prone areas along Route 26 (Vines Creek Road and Atlantic Avenue)

§  Flood-prone areas along Route 54 (Lighthouse Road)

Sussex County Western Communities:

§  Flood-prone areas in close proximity to the Nanticoke and Broad Creek Rivers

Kent County Delaware Bay Communities:

§   Woodland Beach

§   Pickering Beach, including any homes east of 799 Pickering Beach Rd.

§   Kitts Hummock Beach, and all addresses above 2123 Kitts Hummock Rd.

§   Bowers Beach, including any homes east of Old Bowers Rd.

§   South Bowers Beach

§   Big Stone Beach

§   Bennetts Pier

§   Port Mahon Rd., any address above 900

New Castle County, City of New Castle:

§  Washington Park Subdivision

§  Dobbinsville

§  From the Delaware River to Fourth Street

§  Penn Valley subdivision

§  Buttonwood subdivision

New Castle County, City of Delaware City:

§  All houses east of Second Street

§  The 100 block of Fifth Street

§  All of Delaware City Mobile Home Park

§  All of Polktown

Other New Castle County Coastal Communities:

§  Town of Port Penn

§  Augustine Beach

§  Bayview Beach

§  Any residences South of Augustine Beach and East of Silver Run Road/Route 9

The state will open seven shelters at 12 noon on Sunday:

 §  William Penn High School

§  Middletown High School

§  Smyrna Middle School

§  Dover High School

§  Milford Middle School

§  Cape Henlopen High School

§  Indian River High School

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