Reporting Todd Quinones
CAPE MAY, N.J. (CBS) — The estimated 750,000 tourists and residents began evacuating Cape May County on Thursday.
There were mandatory evacuations ordered in areas east of Route 9 in Atlantic and Ocean Counties.
Tensions ran high at a Cape May gas station as some motorists argued over gas lines. Lines to fuel up backed out into the street.
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“This is a madhouse. I mean the world is coming to an end, it looks like. It’s a lack of preparation because of the panic,” tourist Lito Carrillo said.
Once you got on the highway, things did not get much better. Traffic heading north on the Garden State Parkway was bumper to bumper.
It was frustrating enough that one man turned around and decided he might try again later Friday.
“It’s just crazy. I mean it’s unbelievable,” said vacationer Tony Franzino.
On Thursday, Cape May County officials called for a mandatory evacuation of the entire county effective 8 a.m. Friday (read what other counties will be evacuated).
The lack of multiple highways here are a concern.
“Cape May County is the sixth most difficult place in the nation to evacuate for category one hurricanes or greater,” said Cape May County emergency manager Frank McCall. “We need to have people know their presence in Cape May County for this period of time is probably not good for their well being.”
One couple was skipping the traffic altogether and leaving via their boat.
“We’ll head out in the morning, go up the Delaware Bay, up to the Cohancey River, and find some shelter,” Nicki Wynnefield said.
Still, some remained defiant and said they planned to stay.
Mary Stewart and her husband own a marina and a whale-watching boat. She has no plans on leaving.
“We’ve been here through other storms. We’ve been here through other evacuations and we’ve always stayed put,” Stewart said.
Cape May County emergency officials warn that this storm is unlike any other storm to hit this area in anyone’s lifetime, and they are urging everyone to leave.
Reported by Todd Quinones, CBS 3