What you need to know about the NJ state of emergency declaration

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency late this morning in advance of any potential dangers from the nor’easter-like conditions over the next few days and Hurricane Joaquin, which is currently in the southeastern Bahamas and could have some impact on New Jersey late this week into early next week.

    [Click here for the latest from the National Hurricane Center and here for JSHN’s morning update.] 

    Speaking from Trenton, Christie said that it’s “too soon” to know if Joaquin will have any impact on New Jersey.

    But the governor said that there is definitely going to moderate or likely major flooding in coastal South Jersey  — Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, and Salem — on Friday and Saturday due to five to six inches of rainfall along with strong winds. 

    “We are not quite sure if this is going to be a single punch or double punch,” he said, alluding to the expected nor’easter-like conditions through Sunday and then possibly any potential impact from Hurricane Joaquin. 

    Christie said that residents should prepare and visit ready.nj.gov, adding that he will consider evacuations if necessary in the southern part of the state. The state is also making plans for sheltering, if needed, he said. 

    “We’re prepared, and we need you to prepare and not panic,” the governor said. 

    Christie also criticized those who are fighting the building of protective dunes, referencing legal battles in Margate and Bay Head. 

    He said that expect for a private campaign fundraiser in Boston tonight, from which he will return afterward, he will be in New Jersey through at least Tuesday. 

    But what does the declaration actually mean?

    It authorizes the state to activate and coordinate the preparation, response and recovery efforts for the storm with all county and municipal emergency operations and governmental agencies.

    The following information is from a New Jersey Office of Emergency Management guide. 

    Can I drive?

    NJOEM: “The Governor’s declaration does not normally restrict citizen movements or activities. The State may limit access to affected areas due to concerns for public safety but will notify the public of these restrictions. If it is necessary to impose vehicular or personal movement restrictions, the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management will alert the public using all available means, including, but not limited to: the Emergency Alert System, urgent press releases, DOT highway signs, law enforcement teletypes, etc. Every effort will be made by NJOEM to facilitate safe passage for utility, health care and emergency services workers whose presence is necessary for public safety or in response to the emergency.”

    How long will it last?

    NJOEM: “The Governor will rescind the state of emergency when it is no longer needed to provide necessary support to localities or until the threat of impending danger from the event has passed.”

    Does it bar commerce?

    NJOEM: “The Governor’s declaration does not address restrictions on the sale or provision of goods or services. However, your locality may enact restrictions under their local emergency declaration. We recommend that you contact your local government for any specific information.”

    Does my employer still have to pay me?

    NJOEM: “The Governor’s declaration does not mandate administrative policies for individual businesses or address workplace situations in which employees are unable to travel. Businesses must address hours of operation and compensation on an individual basis. Once a federal disaster is declared, employees unable to work may be eligible for unemployment assistance.”

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