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On New Jersey roads, Irene evacuations smooth out

August 27, 2011 | 11:23 am

New Jersey prepares for Irene
Hurricane evacuations are known for gridlocked traffic, and south New Jersey expressways suffered plenty of that Friday. By Saturday, things were moving much more smoothly.

That wasn't necessarily a credit to some grand plan that was working perfectly, but more likely because residents who had not yet left had made up their minds to stay.

"Friday, very busy, all day, lots of cars," said Aydin Gocmez, the manager of a Shell station in Westville, right on a state road that offered one route away from the coast. "Today it is more like normal. I think people, they don't think it will be so bad here. We are not that close to the coast."

PHOTOS: In the path of Hurricane Irene

An employee at a liquor and beer store also noted the drop-off.

"Yesterday, couldn't get a spot in the parking lot. But the people who are still here, they're not going anywhere," said the employee, who asked not to be named because he doesn't own the store.

Denise Slimmer, the owner of The Store, a sandwich shop and outdoor barbecue stand in Monroeville, said she gave no thought to leaving -- she can't leave her business. She said she's not really worried about the hurricane as much as she is about her restaurant losing power.

"We lose power here when the wind blows anyway; it's terrible," Slimmer said."The coast is going to get it the worst, that's for sure. But there's nothing you can do about it. I'm just trying to get ready for the power to go out."

Slimmer said she was consolidating her food to economize on refrigeration, and making sure her gas-powered generator was ready to go. Her business is always closed on Sundays.

"But I will be here on Monday," she said. "And if the power is out, I'll be cooking outside."


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-- David Meeks in Vineland, N.J.

Photo: A woman walks next to a window with plywood attached for protection against the winds in Hoboken, N.J. on Saturday. Credit: Kena Betancur / Reuters