US Super storm threat launches mass evacuations
Up and down the U.S. East Coast and far inland, officials urged residents and businesses to prepare in big ways and little.
The Virginia National Guard was authorized to call up to 500 troops to active duty for debris removal and road-clearing, while homeowners stacked sandbags at their front doors in coastal towns.
Utility officials warned rains could saturate the ground, causing trees to topple into power lines, and told residents to prepare for several days at home without power. ‘‘We’re facing a very real possibility of widespread, prolonged power outages,’’ said Ruth Miller, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.
Warren Ellis, who was on an annual fishing pilgrimage on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, didn’t act fast enough to get home.
Ellis’ 73-year-old father, Steven, managed to get off uninhabited Portsmouth Island near Cape Hatteras by ferry Friday. But the son and his 10-foot (3-meter) camper got stranded when high winds and surf forced state officials to suspend service Saturday.
‘‘We might not get off here until Tuesday or Wednesday, which doesn’t hurt my feelings that much,’’ said Ellis, 44, of Ammissville, Virginia ‘‘Because the fishing’s going to be really good after this storm.’’
Last year, Hurricane Irene poked a new inlet through the island, cutting the only road off Hatteras Island for about 4,000.
In New Jersey, Christie’s emergency declaration will force the shutdown of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos for only the fourth time in the 34-year history of legalized gambling here. The approach of Hurricane Irene shut down the casinos for three days last August.
Atlantic City officials said they would begin evacuating the gambling hub’s 30,000 residents at noon Sunday, busing them to mainland shelters and schools.
Tom Foley, Atlantic City’s emergency management director, recalled the March 1962 storm when the ocean and the bay met in the center of the city.
‘‘This is predicted to get that bad,’’ he said.
Breed reported from Raleigh, North Carolina. Contributing to this report were AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein in Washington; Emery Dalesio in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.; Glenn Adams in Augusta, Maine; Randall Chase in Lewes, Delaware; Rodrique Ngowi in Boston; Ron Todt in Philadelphia and Nancy Benac in Washington.