18:30 Hours, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012
Hurricane Sandy is racing ashore into the Delaware Bay region at this hour, nearly making a direct hit on Sussex County with at least tropical storm-force winds, torrential rains, and swollen seas that are unleashing damage, power outages and moderate-to-severe flooding across Southern Delaware.
The storm, now with 90-mph winds, is coming ashore approximately 25 miles south of Atlantic City, N.J. Winds of at least 35 mph and up to nearly 50 mph, with higher gusts, are being reported at the Indian River Inlet, according to the Delaware Environmental Observing System gauge at that location.
As the storm center closes in on the coast, sustained winds throughout the county could reach 40 mph to 60 mph, with gusts upward of 65 mph to 75 mph, possibly higher along the immediate coast. Winds will begin to switch from the northwest to the west, and eventually the southwest, as the center of circulation passes through the region later tonight.
Please take immediate action now to prevent loss of life. All residents of the county should be sheltered and in place. Do not leave your location until the storm passes and emergency officials declare it is safe to move.
“This is it. This is what the forecasts told us to expect, and this is what everyone hopefully is now prepared for,” said Joseph Thomas, director of the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center.
A state of emergency remains in effect for all of Delaware, including a mandatory evacuation of identified flood-prone areas along the Atlantic coast, Delaware Bay, Inland Bays, and Nanticoke River coastlines. A Level 2 travel restriction also remains in effect, meaning only critical staff should be traveling.
County government offices will be closed Tuesday due to the storm. Additionally, County Council has canceled its regularly scheduled meeting for that day.
Three shelters remain open for anyone displaced by the storm. The shelters are:
Cape Henlopen H. S.
1250 Kings Hwy.
Indian River H. S.
29772 Armory Road
Milford M. S.
612 Lakeview Ave.
Forecasters believe Hurricane Sandy’s current track comes close enough to give Sussex County some of the strongest effects of the storm, with moderate-to-severe tidal flooding likely in low-lying areas, particularly along the oceanfront, Inland Bays and the Delaware Bay shoreline. Storm surges and tides could swell by as much as 8 to 10 feet, exacerbated by this evening’s full moon.
The storm is accelerating as it passes through the region, moving at a nearly 30-mph clip to the northwest. The storm should clear out of the area gradually on Tuesday, but will leave in its wake brisk winds, up to 35 mph, and likely destruction and debris across a wide swath of real estate in the mid-Atlantic.
Heavy rains that have been falling since Sunday have already measured 6 inches to 9 inches, and could reach a foot in some spots before the storm ends. The saturated soil combined with high winds is now causing trees to knock out power lines, leading to numerous outages for thousands of customers.
Members of the public with questions about evacuations or other issues can call the EOC storm line at (302) 856-7366.