Editor's note: This order was upgraded to "mandatory" on Sunday afternoon. See this story.
Middletown Mayor Anthony Fiore said residents living in low lying areas between Route 36 and Raritan Bay are strongly urged to consider moving inland, ahead of Hurricane Sandy.
Fiore met with township, school and county officials today at Town Hall. The consensus was that it would be prudent to advise residents in flood-prone areas to leave while they still can.
"Clearly there is a potential for a very large rain and wind storm from Sandy," said the mayor Saturday night. "A storm surge up to eight feet can be catastrophic if all the elements will be in combination with a full moon tide on Monday."
He added, "We are strongly urging residents in low lying areas to find people to stay with on higher ground. In the worst case scenario, we might not be able to get help to them."
Buses will take residents to county-run shelters at Monmouth University in Long Branch and Wall Township. (Wall Twp. will accept people with pets.) Shuttles will leave from Croydon Hall, 900 Leonardville Road, Leonardo Sunday afternoon, around 4 p.m., said Fiore.
"People should try to make every arrangement possible. The shelters are definitely something secondary, if they don't have somewhere else to go," he said.
Middletown Township public schools will be closed on Monday and Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the mayor said township workers are busy on the job. The DPW will be working Sunday to clear critical drainage basins, and the township police, fire, office of emergency management and elected officials will be "on full alert" beginning Sunday night at 6 p.m., when the command center is assembled at Town Hall.
At Middletown's request, Monmouth County officials have also decided to lower the water level at Shadow Lake. "We want to alleveiate the potential for overflowing the dam as it did in Hurricane Irene," said Fiore. "By lowering the lake we hope we won't have a repeat performance. During Hurricane Irene the dam overflowed onto Hubbard Road."
The township has also been in contact with NJ American Water over the ongoing pipe repairs at the Swimming River Reservoir. During Irene, the reservoir overflowed, taking out a portion of the road, and ultimately caused the major damage to the bridge carrying the pipes.
"American Water to make sure they are going take every step to avoid another issue with the road. They also assured us they have taken measures to secure the pipes. NJ American Water is confident their mechanisms will prevent those pipes from being damaged," he said.