New York City authorities issued an unprecedented order on Friday for the evacuation of about 370,000 residents of low-lying areas at the city’s edges ahead of hurricane Irene.
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New York residents will be evacuated from the expensive apartments in Battery Park City to the roller coaster in Coney Island to the dilapidated boardwalk in the Rockaways, as evacuation order warnings that Hurricane Irene was such a threat that people living there simply had to get out.
New York officials also announced plans to shut down the city’s entire transit system Saturday — all 468 subway stations and 840 miles of tracks, and the rest of the nation’s largest mass transit network: thousands of buses in the city, as well as the buses and commuter trains that reach from Midtown Manhattan to the suburbs.
President Barak Obama approved a request from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York to declare a federal emergency in the state while the hurricane was still several hundred miles away.
“The hurricane, 290 miles of fury dancing angrily across the Atlantic Ocean toward the coast, was actually advancing more slowly than most late-summer storms,” the National Weather Service said.
[googlead tip=”patrat_mic” aliniat=”dreapta”]Friday night Weather Service forecast said rain associated with the storm would begin in Manhattan after 11 a.m. Saturday with conditions worsening into Sunday.
“You only have to look at the weather maps to understand how big this storm is and how unique it is,” New York mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference on Friday at City Hall.
The increasingly ominous announcements from officials — and the wall-to-wall coverage — sent New Yorkers hurrying to buy staples like canned food and candles.
Shoppers in places found that the shelves had been cleaned out. In shore towns in New Jersey and on Long Island, touristss waited in lines at gas stations and watched as bulldozers built berms on low-lying beach roads.
The announcement about the transit shutdown and the evacuation of what the city called Zone A low-lying areas prompted a cascade of cancellations for Saturday and Sunday: Broadway shows, the Mets’ games against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field, the performances by the Dave Matthews Band on Governors Island and the outdoor showing of opera movies at Lincoln Center, among others. Even the New York Aquarium and the Bronx, Central Park and Prospect Park Zoos closed for the weekend.
[googlead tip=”lista_mare” aliniat=”stanga”]Starting at noon Saturday, all three major airports in the New York region will be closed to arriving flights.
They will remain open for departures, pending changes in the weather, but most of those scheduled departures have already been canceled, according to Steve Coleman, a Port Authority spokesman.
Authorities announced the subway shutdown was prompted mainly by wind estimates that suggested the hurricane could rock subway cars in places where they run above ground. The commuter rail lines that serve Long Island, Westchester County and Connecticut will also be shut down, as will New Jersey Transit operations. New Jersey Transit will suspend train service at noon Saturday and will stop bus service six hours later.
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that 91 evacuation centers and shelters opened on Friday for people who could not stay in their homes. The Nassau County executive, Edward P. Mangano, said 20 shelters would be open by the time the storm hit.
Consolidated Edison warned that it would have to cut off power to some customers if underground pipes and cables became submerged in water. To be ready for repairs, Consolidated Edison said it was bringing in 800 additional workers from as far away as Texas.
Mayor Bloomberg said no one would be fined for violating the city’s evacuation orders. “Nobody’s going to go to jail,” he said, but he warned that the storm’s consequences could be fatal.