Sandy has stranded some New Jersey shore residents - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Hurricane Sandy

Sandy has stranded some New Jersey shore residents

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By WAYNE PARRY | AP

They heard the warnings, watched the waves, felt the wind — and still decided to stay put.

Some were emboldened by the fact that their particular slice of the Jersey shore hadn't suffered too badly from past storms. Others doubted the dire predictions of what Hurricane Sandy could do.

Whatever the reasons, thousands of people decided to remain in their homes.

And as the storm blew in Monday from the Atlantic, it became clear they were stuck where they were.

"It's kind of an eerie feeling; you feel cut off," said Steve McCusker, one of an estimated 2,000 residents of Ocean City who stayed put as Sandy placed a bulls-eye on the shore and roared toward it. "If something happens, you're on your own."

That's precisely what city officials had said. Mike Dattilo, Ocean City's administrator, said emergency personnel made one last run around 2:30 p.m. to bring residents to a shelter on the mainland, using a National Guard high-water truck, a large vehicle the city owns, and several large vans.

"The window to do that (evacuate) is closed now," Dattilo said. "We have something to really be concerned about."

Ocean City has nearly 8,100 properties worth a combined $3.4 billion at risk from storm surge, according to CoreLogic, a property information firm. The Atlantic City-Hammonton area has more than 20,000 properties worth $4.8 billion at risk.

McCusker said every street he could see was under water, though his particular corner rarely floods, he said.

"My power just went out," he said. "We have the highest water I've ever seen. You can't get in or out. Some people try to get out, and they're getting stuck in floods. I'm trying not to show my concern in front of my family."

Bob McDevitt, president of the main casino workers union and a lifelong Atlantic City resident, also chose to ride out the storm in his home.

"I have never seen so much water in the inlet. It's totally under water," he said. "When I think about how much water is already in the streets, and how much more is going to come with high tide tonight, this is going to be devastating. I think this is going to be a really bad situation tonight."

In Longport, the portion of the barrier island south of Atlantic City, the bay and ocean met in the middle of town, and power and phone lines were down. Police in Egg Harbor Township made several rescues of residents from flooded homes and stranded vehicles, and water overflowed a river bulkhead in Mays Landing, about 15 miles from the coast, flooding the downtown. A large tree had fallen across Route 50 in Estell Manor.

The ocean broke through the dunes on a portion of Long Beach Island, where evacuations were under way. A dune breach in Beach Haven flooded the streets, and flooding was reported elsewhere on the island as well.

Police and rescuers went house to house in some communities, offering to remove people from their homes.

Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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