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Don't Cross Irene, Her Wrath is Yet to Come

Gov. Christie says hurricane is 'ominous' for the state.

We’re in for a dark and stormy night. Are you ready?

The short downpours this afternoon are a preview of what’s to come. While Irene has been downgraded to a Category 1 storm that doesn’t much change what’s in store.

Hurricane Irene “continues to be ominous for our state,” Gov. Chris Christie said Saturday afternoon.

Later tonight, with the worst of the storm expected after midnight until noon Sunday, Livingston will surely feel .

Flooding is a major concern and Livingston High School will open as an if needed. Livingston can expect 5 to 10 inches of rain -- flooding streets, yards, and “dare I also say basements,” said the state’s climatologist Dr. David A. Robinson.

Wind gusts up to 60 mph and tropical storm force winds (39 mph plus) will likely down trees and electrical lines. Power outages are expected.

By now, most residents have on the essentials: Batteries, flashlights, food – indeed the cupboards were bare at many grocery, drug and hardware stores. Outdoor furniture has been put away or tied down, and – at my house for sure – everything picked off the basement floor.

The storm’s tracking is very similar to the past several days. “It is going to be interesting to see if Irene retains hurricane status up the New Jersey coast and if it comes onshore,” Robinson said. “If it makes landfall it will be only the third hurricane to do so since colonial times, the others being 1821 and 1903.”

On Saturday, President Obama declared an emergency exists in New Jersey and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts.

Christie announced that more than 90 percent of the residents in Long Beach Island, Cape May and Atlantic counties have been evacuated. The concern this afternoon was Atlantic City, where 600 senior citizens have refused to move from their high-rise apartments. Christie said officials will begin talking to the residents individually to persuade them to leave for safer ground.

"I can't make you leave your home and I am certainly not going to place you under arrest to make you leave," Christie said speaking directly to the seniors who might be watching the televised press briefing. "Let us take you downstairs to one of these buses. … If you stay where you are now, you are placing yourself in greater danger."

In Essex County, Richard J. Codey Arena at 560 Northfield Ave. in West Orange will be open to county residents who have no place to stay starting at 5 p.m. tonight, said County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.

Newark officials were going door-to-door in Newark's East Ward urging residents in high-risk flood zones to get out before the worst of Hurricane Irene hits the city late Saturday, Mayor Cory Booker said.

Livingston Library for the weekend, same for county parks, but the Livingston Mall, grocers, drug stores and 7/11 said they would open as usual on Sunday. At least for now.

Livingston officials are urging residents to take Hurricane Irene seriously, and not to drive on flooded roads or touch trees because of the threat of live wires. The township posted an at @ http://www.livingstonnj.org/

Livingston Patch has also posted stories on before, during and after the storm.

"We need continued help to do this," Christie said. "I'm confident if people in the state continue to respond, almost certainly we will suffer significant property and infrastructure losses. If we can minimize the loss of life, New Jersey will get through this just fine."

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