Gov. Chris Christie Declares State of Emergency in New Jersey as Hurricane Joaquin Threatens to Wreak Havoc Along East Coast

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With Hurricane Joaquin threatening to wreak havoc along the East Coast, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency Thursday.

Christie said he signed the order after receiving reports that southern New Jersey is expected to get drenched with up to six inches of rain Friday and Saturday.

“I need of all you to begin to prepare today,” Christie said, singling out the counties of Salem, Cumberland, Atlantic and Cape May.

The consecutive days of heavy rain from a separate weather system will likely trigger coastal flooding even if Joaquin never makes landfall along the East Coast, Christie said.

“At this point, it’s just too soon to say with any certainty whether or not Joaquin is likely to have a direct impact on New Jersey or not,” Christie said in a Thursday morning press conference.

“We are not quite sure if this is going to be a single punch or a double punch.”

Joaquin strengthened into a Category 4 storm, packing winds of 140 mph, as it pounded the Bahamas Thursday afternoon.

More than 15 inches of rain was expected in some parts of the central Bahamas — likely triggering dangerous flash floods.

Forecasters say it’s still too early to predict Joaquin’s precise path once it heads north towards Florida.

The hurricane could make land anywhere from the Carolinas to southern New Hampshire as soon as early Sunday or as late as early Tuesday – or it could spin out to the east and bypass the East Coast altogether.

“There’s no need to panic yet,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Patrick Maloit. “We still have plenty of time to monitor and evaluate what’s going on.”

Heavy rains from a different storm system have caused major flooding in South Carolina. One person died in street flooding in Spartanburg, officials said.

Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo both said Thursday storm preparations are underway in the hope of avoiding another Hurricane Sandy.

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SOURCE: NY Daily News, Jennifer Fermino, Rich Schapiro and Kenneth Lovett