CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE, N.J. - Officials here issued a mandatory evacuation order late Thursday that begins at 8 a.m. Friday morning for all of Cape May County.

It is estimated that as many as 750,000 people will be ordered to leave the county, said Frank McCall, the county's emergency management coordinator.

McCall said it is likely that other shore counties, including Atlantic, Ocean and Monmouth, will issue similar evacuation orders.

McCall said the National Weather Service has indicated that there is a 90 percent chance that

Cape May County will take a direct hit from Hurricane Irene and that it could make landfall here.

McCall said the decision was made to issue the order because Cape May County is considered the sixth most difficult area to evacuate in the U.S. based on it geography.

"This kind of order isn't issued without a great deal of thought and concern. I urge you to move, to get out," said Cape May County Freeholder Gerald Thornton.

The last time a mandatory evacuation proclamation was made was in 1985 during Hurricane Gloria.