(Newsroom America) -- The "life threatening" storm surge from Hurricane Sandy is expected to make landfall along the central N.J. coast on Monday evening, according to the National Hurricane Center, with "historic surge levels" expected along the coast, including New York Harbor.
President Obama says agencies are poised to "respond big and respond fast" to destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy, which he described as "a big and messy system" and urged Americans to take the threat seriously.
Forecasters said the "very large and dangerous hurricane" continued to move parallel to the East Coast overnight and moved to the North early Monday.
"Sandy is expected to make landfall along the central N.J. coast Monday evening. In addition to long periods of sustained tropical storm-force winds, the storm will produce historic surge levels along the coast, including New York Harbor," the National Hurricane Center said in an alert.
Eight states have declared a state of emergency, including New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
National Hurricane Center said early Monday morning that in addition to long periods of sustained tropical storm-force winds, the storm will produce "historic surge levels" along the coast, including New York Harbor.
Following a meeting on Sunday with FEMA, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy and Governors and Mayors of major cities in the potential path of Hurricane Sandy, President Obama said his main message was that people should take the storm threat seriously.
"This is a serious and big storm," he said in a press conference at FEMA headquarters in Washington D.C.
President Obama said his message to the governors and mayors was "anything they need, we will be there."
"And we’re going to cut through red tape," he said. "We’re not going to get bogged down with a lot of rules. We want to make sure that we are anticipating and leaning forward into making sure that we’ve got the best possible response to what is going to be a big and messy system."
New York issued a mandatory evacuation order for residents in Zone A areas, the Rockaways, Hamilton Beach, and City Island as Hurricane Sandy approached.
The MTA shut down all subway, bus, and commuter railroad service at 7 PM on Sunday.
All NYC public schools are closed Monday, October 29.