A surging Hurricane Sandy rushed towards the East Coast today and is now expected to crash ashore this evening, hours earlier than previously expected.
Sandy's forward motion has accelerated to 28 mph and could make landfall somewhere between Atlantic City and Cape May around 6 p.m. or 7 p.m., Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman from NOAA's National Hurricane Center, told ABC News.
Previous estimates were for it hit Atlantic City about midnight.
Although Sandy was still hours away, most of Atlantic City was already under several feet of water as waves crashed over the sea wall, spitting up chunks of the famed boardwalk.
Atlantic City officials have implemented an emergency curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and a travel ban has been put in effect -- and the worse of the storm has yet to arrive, according Atlantic County spokeswoman Linda Gilmore.
"The city's basically flooded," said Willie Glass, public safety director, according to the Associated Press. "Most of the city is under water."
Cars in the streets have water past their tires and planks from the famed Atlantic City boardwalk have washed up into the street. Garage doors were crushed and torn, with the structures caving in on themselves.
Large trees have fallen, traffic lights are out, phone lines are down and several water rescues have occurred, according to Gilmore.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had harsh words for Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford who told residents they could shelter in place instead of moving inland.
Christie told residents that it was now too dangerous for crews to go in to rescue people who chose to stay, and they would have to "ride out the storm" and wait until daylight.
"For those people who ignored my warnings, this is what you have to deal with now," the clearly irked governor said.
The threat from Hurricane Sandy seems to be growing as it nears land with the threat of life-threatening storm surges, gale force winds and rainfall that could cripple transportation and leave millions without power.
President Obama cautioned that the storm will impact millions of Americans.
"Please listen to what your state and local officials are saying," he said today from the White House briefing room. "When they tell you to evacuate, you need to evacuate. Do not delay, don't pause, don't question the instructions that are being given, because this is a serious storm and could potentially have fatal consequences if people haven't acted."
The president abandoned the campaign trail with only days left before the election, canceling events in the key battleground of Florida to return to Washington.
Though the storm's epicenter is still hours away, the force of the storm is already evident as powerful winds and high seas began lashing the coast this morning.
Tens of thousands of people have lost power and many more outages are expected. Last year, Hurricane Irene left 7 million homes without power in the same area Sandy is expected to batter with wind and rain.
It may have already claimed some victims. The tall ship HMS Bounty, a replica of the three masted ship, went down off the coast of Cape Hatteras, S.C., this morning. Fourteen crew members were rescued and a Coast Guard helicopter is scouring the rough seas for two more crew members.
Hurricane Sandy picked up speed this morning and began its menacing turn towards the U.S. coast as cities all along the shore scrambled to batten down before the super storm hits.
It is packing top winds of 85 mph so far, and waves are approaching 20 feet off the coast of Long Island and have exceeded 30 feet off the coast of the Carolinas, according to the National Hurricane Center.