New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell has declared a Local State of Emergency in the city, and is closing New Bedford Public Schools Monday.

Mitchell has also instated a voluntary evacuation for residents of the South End and low-lying areas. Keith Middle School on Hathaway Blvd. and Pilgrim Church on Purchase St. downtown will serve as pet-friendly shelters for those looking to evacuate their homes.

Mitchell says Hurricane Sandy has the potential to pack a punch to the Southcoast.

The hurricane barrier is closed as of 5am Monday, with the floodgates on West Rodney French Blvd. and Cove Road closing if flooding becomes a threat.

City offices are also closed Monday, with only essential staff members reporting to work.

Garbage pick-up in the city is also being delayed by two days.

Mayor Mitchell will hold another press conference Monday at 2:30pm, and will determine if schools will remain closed Tuesday along with other information.