The storm is expected to hit the North Carolina coast on Saturday and has caused thousands of people to flee their homes. Gov. Chris Christie has declared a state of emergency as New Jersey awaits the arrival of Hurricane Irene.
The state Office of Emergency Management is coordinating with county and local officials as they prepare for the storm.
The storm is expected to arrive on Saturday evening, around 6 p.m.
The governor predicted that officials will close access to the barrier islands sometime Saturday and said that he’d consider ordering a mandatory evacuation. Christie told people to prepare now for the arrival of the storm. N.J. Gov. Chris Christie signed a state of emergency declaration on Thursday ahead of the incoming hurricane.
The governor said Irene would have a "severe" impact on the Garden State.
"We are urging residents not to go to the shore this weekend," Christie said.
"I am urging people to leave (the shore) by tomorrow (Friday), especially the barrier islands. Do not attempt to ride this out if you're asked to evacuate," said Christie.
"People should not take this lightly," Christie said.
The N.J. Dept. of Corrections reportedly will be evacuating more than 2,000 inmates from the Southern State Correctional Facility Thursday due to the possibility of storm and flood damage from Hurricane Irene. Seton Hall University's South Orange campus will be closed on Sunday.