The following account, while focusing on a specific region, contains advice that could be helpful to many readers. Consider that this is an unprecedented weather event unlike anything seen in modern meteorology and do not trust your reaction/overreaction to previous weather events to be adequate in this circumstance.
Hurricane Sandy Notes From The Shore, Sunday October 28, 1:46 — The winds have steadily increased over the past hour. In Sea Bright, puddling has begun near the sea wall but they are only random occurrences likely carried over the wall by the winds. However this should not diminish concern as both the waterways and the river line show fast-moving and steadily rising waters. Especially near the river line, the water is less than a foot away from cresting the banks. Local businesses have shut down. The Dunkin Donuts is boarded up and shows it will be open today until 3:00 PM and closed Monday and Tuesday. However, from the outside it appears the shop is already closed, much like the rest of the expanse of Sea Bright, with some of the boards spray-painted to read, “Sandy please be kind to us,” and “Here we go again.”
In Long Branch, it appears by sight that half of the beach is eroded now with waves fully exposing the farthest tips of jetties ordinarily buried into sand. The concern that the beachfront will be compromised before the brunt of the storm arrives is not lost on the volunteers who are helping to fill sand bags to attempt to dam up the boardwalk and fortify dunes.
This is not the time for adventure-seekers to be strolling the beaches with metal detectors or to be standing on the sea wall to take Instagram pictures. If you have the ability to start emergency planning or, otherwise, evacuations do so now. You will not want to be on the roads by nightfall.
With that, gas stations from North Middletown to Ocean Township are experiencing high amounts of purchasers and lines are eight-to-ten cars deep. Stores from home centers like Home Depot and Lowe’s to convenience locations like Walgreens and CVS Pharmacies are sold out of flashlights and bottled water. If you are currently in need of both, attempt to call your chosen locations before venturing out. This is not a guarantee they will have these items or will attempt to hold them for you (first-come-first-served will be the standard operating procedure) but it is smart to at least have an idea they have what you need and not to go out to places that definitely won’t.
If you have containers that can hold water now, it is considered a good idea to start collecting it from your tap now if you can. As unappetizing as your current tap water may or may not be (depending on your region) in the event that the storm compromises water supply, it is better than no water at all and may be much cleaner currently if contaminants are washed into your local water supply reservoirs. Those with well water should pay close attention to this as they will certainly have more chances at compromised water quality. If possible, boil water to kill possible microbe situations if you intend the water for ingestion.
Much like Sea Bright, Red Bank’s Marine Park has not yet had crested banks (unlike some messaging that has gone out during the morning) but that should not diminish concern. The waterline is very high, less than a foot, and there is every eventuality it will rise above the banks and flood the park.
A final warning: although leaf fall is not normally complete for another two-to-three weeks, sustained winds of 30+ MPH with wind gusts exceeding 75+ will likely strip remaining leafed trees bare, and with persistent rain will make pathways and roadways slicker than expected. If possible, move elderly family members with mobility issues now because later will be much more challenging and dangerous. Also, if possible, create areas indoors where your pets can safely “do business” as it will not be safe to allow dogs and cats outside once the storm has started in earnest. Line basements or garages with newspaper, old house-breaking pads, garbage bags or even unused diapers if you no longer have use for them, but you will not be able to let out pets for purposes of relieving themselves. Make contingencies for this now if possible. This storm is expected to affect us well over 48 hours.
Update Sunday 8:28 PM: The rain has been drizzling down for a couple hours now and at our home the electricity has occasionally fluttered out. The Internet cut out for fifteen minutes but (obviously) came back on. Those who had been cavalier about the prospects of the storm are now clearly siding with the Gloom & Doom crowd. Weather forecasts have phased out any hopes of an eastward pull for the hurricane. It is on track to swing into and slam New Jersey in the gut. Winds will emanate from the storm up to 400 miles, meaning the full expanse of the northeast will feel it. As the storm makes landfall, the wind will lash the ocean water into the coastline, with land above the storm’s path getting the worst of it. This includes NJ, Long Island, Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York State and Connecticut waterways.
One thing to keep in mind is not that this is “only” a Cat 1 storm, but that most Cat 1 storms blow by in five or six hours. This is projected to sit on us for more than 48 hours. Wind may not be a sustained strength but will be a longstanding problem.
The bottom line is that this is happening. Take a deep breath, keep your head clear, stay careful and stay safe.
Addtl: Marine Park, Red Bank, NJ – Flood stage begins.