TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie has declared a state of emergency for New Jersey, ahead of Hurricane Sandy’s expected arrival. The declaration was announced around 11 a.m. Saturday, just before the governor held a news conference to discuss how the state was preparing for the storm. Christie had been campaigning in North Carolina before returning to New Jersey late Friday. The state’s office of emergency management has been activated and voluntary evacuations started from South Jersey’s barrier islands. Mandatory evacuations there and at Atlantic City’s casinos were due to start Sunday afternoon. Christie was criticized for vacationing in Florida with his family while a snowstorm pummeled the state in 2010. But he gained fame the following year for telling New Jerseyans to “Get the hell off the beach” as Hurricane Irene approached. Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.