New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Sends 2,000 National Guard Soldiers to New York City

0 Hurricane Coverage: Late Shabbos afternoon, NY Gov. Cuomo visited the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Ave. between 25th and 26th streets to announce he was deploying 1,000 National Guard troops in addition to the 1,000 already deployed. Mr. Cuomo was wearing a blue blazer, cream pants and a white shirt with no tie. He shook hands with a few of the 200 or so national guardsmen standing at attention before stepping to the podium.

“The National guard will play a vital role in this situation. The initial plan was for 1,000 National Guard to be called up. I will double that number to 2,000 National Guard,” he said.

The troops will be deployed throughout New York City and Long Island and working with the MTA, NYPD and Port Authority to secure bridges and tunnels, as well as to protect the World Trade Center site from flooding. The troops will also help with clean-up and help direct traffic if there are widespread power outages.

“Government in many ways has done everything they can to be prepared,” he said, adding that citizens must also be prepared.

“If you are in an area that is a mandatory evacuation zone, you must evacuate. Even if you’re not in an evacuation zone, this is not a time to be out on the roads. Unless it is an emergency stay home. Enjoy your family, get a good book, but stay indoors,” he said.

Mr. Cuomo said he stood by his decision to shut down the MTA, despite criticism. “I think it was the right decision, I stand by the decision,” he said. “I am the Governor and I made the decision.”

The 69th Regiment armory is one of three staging in the area. The other two are Stewart Airport in Newburgh and Republic Airport on Long Island. Some 100 dump trucks are headed to staging areas, said director of State Operations Howard Glaser, along with excavators, bulldozers, backhoes, 12 trailers of generators, 20 trailers of water, 20 trailers of meals ready to eat, all of which can be added to if need be.

Mr. Glaser said the state has opened a federal mobilization center at Republic where 20 federal workers are assisting with distribution and logistics of federal aid. Mr. Glaser added that the governor had submitted a memorandum of agreement to Secretary of Defense Panetta “which establishes a joint command in the event that additional federal defense resources are necessary.”

“Post-hurricane Katrina that coordination between federal and state government was very tricky,” he said. “This establishes one command under the governor in New York State should that become necessary.”


The destructive power of Hurricane Irene was revealed as at least nine people, including two children, were dead as the storm lashed North Carolina and Virginia as it charged up the East Coast toward New York.

More than two million people from South Carolina to Maryland were without power as the giant 580-mile-wide storm brought widespread flooding and high winds that knocked down power lines.

Irene’s strength was downgraded to a category 1 hurricane, but as it approached New York, forcasters warned it would hit the city at or near hurricane strength.

The National Weather Service said conditions were ripe for tornadoes in the city, Long Island and southern Connecticut, as twisters were reported touching down in Delaware and Maryland.

Around two million people were without power in Virginia as Irene battered the region, reported state governor Bob McDonnell.

Progress Energy, North and South Carolina’s utility service, said about 250,000 customers had lost electricity there.

Widespread flooding was caused by Irene pushing a giant storm surge, a wall of water, out of its way as it marched up the Atlantic Coast.

In many places, forecasters warned, the storm surge could be as destructive as the hurricane itself, flooding low-lying areas before the storm even arrives with its winds and pelting rain.

Daniel Brown, the warning coordination meteorologist for NOAA’s National Hurricane Centre, said: ‘Storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 4 to 8 feet above ground level within the hurricane warning area from the North Carolina/Virginia border northward to Cape Cod.’

He added: ‘Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large, destructive, and life-threatening waves.’

The deaths blamed on Irene included two children, an 11-year-old boy in Virginia killed when a tree crashed through his roof and a North Carolina child who died in a crash at an intersection where traffic lights were out.

A man in Onslow County, North Carolina suffered a heart attack and died while boarding up his windows, according to the Charlotte Observer. A man in Nash County was killed outside his house after he was struck by a tree limb picked up by the strong winds.

Tornadoes were reported touching down in Delaware and Maryland. In Lewes, Delaware, governor Jack Markell said at least 17 homes had been damaged by a twister. In total, up to 40 houses were damaged in the town because of the storm.

The National Weather Service reported a tornado touching down in Nassau Station, Delaware, and Maryland State Police said there was an apparent tornado on the lower Eastern Shore of the state.

Controversial talk show host Glenn Beck called Hurricane Irene a ‘blessing from God’ on Friday, arguing the fatal storm would teach people to be better prepared for natural disasters.

Speaking on his radio programme, he said he has been urging his audience to prepare for a ‘global disruption in food’.

Beck said while some have laughed at him, the storm will prove it is vital Americans stockpile supplies in the even of a disaster.

‘How many warnings do you think you’re going to get and how many warnings do you deserve?’ he asked.

‘This hurricane that is coming thorough in the East Coast, for anyone who’s in the East Coast and has been listening to me say “Food storage!” “Be prepared!” “Be somebody that can help others,” you’ve heard me say this for years.’

‘Don’t be in a panic situation. If you’ve waited, this hurricane is a blessing. It is a blessing. It is God reminding you – as was the earthquake last week – it’s God reminding you you’re not in control. Things can happen. Be prepared and be someone who can help others so when disaster strikes, God forbid, you’re not panicking,’ he said.

Damaging winds and torrential rain have led to an unprecedented lockdown as the storm roars its way northwards toward New York, where it is expected to hit on Sunday morning, according to the National Hurricane Centre.

President Obama visited the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Saturday to check on preparations and response activity.

Obama arrived at FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center, where federal agencies convene during disasters. He toured the facility and participated in a video teleconference with state and federal officials. He also listened as reports came in from as far as Vermont, where rivers are expected to flood and Canadian utility crews have been called in to help.

‘You guys are doing a great job,’ the president told more employees working to coordinate federal, state and local emergency responders. ‘This is obviously going to be touch and go…. It’s going to be a long 72 hours,’ Mr Obama said.

The President had been due to leave Martha’s Vineyard today after a nine-day vacation, but he cut it short and returned to the White House last night to get ahead of the storm. He brought first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters, Malia and Sasha, with him.
His visit followed a conference call he convened from the White House with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to review federal emergency response and recovery plans.

Irene came ashore near North Carolina’s Cape Lookout around 7:30am EDT, and then chugged up the coast on a north-northeast track.

The hurricane could slacken to a tropical storm by the time it hits New England on Sunday, but the Miami-based hurricane center said that would make little difference in the impact from its damaging winds, flooding rains and dangerous storm surge.

‘I would advise people not to focus that much on Category 1, 2 or 3 … if you’re in a hurricane, it’s a big deal,’ said U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. ‘This remains a large and dangerous storm,’ she said.

It was the first hurricane to make landfall in the continental United States since 2008, and came almost six years to the day after Katrina ravaged New Orleans on August 29 2005.

Experts guessed that no other hurricane in American history had threatened as many people.

North Carolina governor Beverly Perdue said Irene inflicted significant damage along her state’s coast, but that some areas were¬†unreachable because of high water or downed power lines.

‘Folks are cut off in parts of North Carolina, and obviously we’re not going to get anybody to do an assessment until it’s safe,’ she said.

At least 2.3 million people were under orders to move to somewhere safer, though it was unclear how many obeyed or, in some cases, how they could.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told 6,500 troops from all branches of the military to get ready to pitch in on relief work, and President Barack Obama visited the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s command centre in Washington and offered moral support.

‘It’s going to be a long 72 hours,’ he said, ‘and obviously a lot of families are going to be affected.’

In Philadelphia, Mayor Michael Nutter declared a state of emergency, the first for the city since 1986, when racial tensions were running high.

‘We are trying to save lives and don’t have time for silliness,’ he said.

The storm arrived in Washington just days after an earthquake damaged some of the capital’s most famous structures, including the Washington Monument.

Irene could test Washington’s ability to protect its national treasures and its poor.

In New Jersey, the Oyster Creek nuclear plant, just a few miles from the coast, shut down as a precaution as Irene closed in. And Boston’s transit authority said all bus, subway and commuter rail service would be suspended all day Sunday.

{The Wall Street Journal/The Daily Mail/ Newscenter}