Before Hurricane Irene hits, New York planning to shut down transportation system, evacuate areas
Astronaut Ron Garan tweeted this picture of Hurricane Irene from the International Space Station (NASA)The city is planning to shut down the entire transportation system on Saturday in anticipation of Hurricane Irene‘s arrival, officials revealed Thursday.
A mandatory evacuation of all nursing homes in flood-prone areas of the city was also ordered Thursday.
The monster storm is expected hit New York as a Category 1 storm sometime Sunday, barreling in with winds of 90 miles-per-hour and torrential rains.
Mayor Bloomberg said Thursday that it was “very conceivable” that he will order a mandatory evacuation of all low-lying areas of the city by Saturday.
“The storm is predicted to be very dangerous,” the mayor said.
As the storm finished ravaging the Bahamas Thursday and set its wicked eye straight for the Carolina coastline, city and state officials were busy preparing for the worst:
* Gov. Cuomo declared a state of emergency to free up resources and take advantage of federal assistance.
* The MTA took the unprecedented move of setting its hurricane plan in motion, which calls for a complete shutdown of subways, trains and buses when sustained winds reach at least 39 mph.
* The mayor ordered the mandatory evacuation of nursing homes, care facilities for the elderly and hospitals in low-lying areas by 8 p.m. Friday.
* The MTA warned bridges could be closed for safety reasons due to high winds.
* More than 300 street fairs and other city permitted events scheduled for this weekend were cancelled.
“We recommend people start going to less vulnerable areas,” Bloomberg said at a news conference Thursday.
He said a decision will be made by Saturday morning on whether to call for a mandatory evacuation of all low-lying areas in what he referred to as “Zone A,” which includes Coney Island, the Rockaways and Battery Park City.
Bloomberg said five hospitals in Zone A are also required to evacuate, including Coney Island Hospital.
“Tonight, Coney Island Hospital … will begin placing patients in vacant beds in other hospitals in other parts of the city,” Bloomberg said Thursday.
“We are also notifying the other hospitals in the other Zone A areas as well as nursing homes and senior centers that they must – I repeat, must – evacuate beginning tomorrow and complete the process by 9 p.m. tomorrow night.”