“Unprecedented” Mandatory Evacuation For Part Of New York City Continues


hurricane-irene-nycMatzav.com Hurricane Coverage: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued an unprecedented mandatory evacuation order for parts of the city as Hurricane Irene barrels down on the Big Apple.

“The sun is shining, but don’t be misled, there is a very dangerous storm headed in our direction,” Bloomberg said.

“There is no question that we are going to get hit with some wind and high water that is very dangerous,” Bloomberg said. “It is, in some sense, the calm before the storm.”

Bloomberg also announced a mandatory evacuation of all residents in the coastal areas dubbed Zone A and also extended the mandatory evacuation zone to include all of the Rockaways. Zone A includes Battery Park City and parts of Lower Manhattan, the Rockaways and Coney Island. Roughly 270,000 residents are affected. To see if your home is in part of the evacuation zone, click here.

“If you live in Zone A, you have to move,” Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg said the city is calling for everyone in the affected areas out by 5 p.m. on Shabbos.

Battery Park City resident Susan Bridges lived through one disaster and she doesn’t want to go through another.

“I was here during 9/11 and the aftermath of that was a little bit crazy,” she said while packing up her car to head upstate to stay with friends. “If things are very bad, this place will be completely and totally unlivable and people will be dead.”

The evacuation order will be especially challenging, since the city that never sleeps will grind to an almost total stop Saturday at noon.

That’s when subways, buses, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro North service will all shut down.

What’s more, bridges into and out of New York City will also shut down if sustained winds clock in at 60 mph or greater, said Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

It will take at least 8 hours to shut all the subways and buses down.

“I don’t think that there’s any question that after the storm the situation is going to be very difficult,” MTA chairman Jay Walder said.

“Stay indoors,” Bloomberg urged. “It’s just very dangerous when the wind gets this high.”

“If you can possibly do it, stay inside on Sunday,” Bloomberg said. “It would be great if we can wake up on Monday and say there were no tragedies.”

Bloomberg said the city may shut down Staten Island ferry service if winds top 46 mph.

The concern about Irene is so great among New Yorkers that NYC.gov, the city’s website, crashed briefly. The site houses the city’s evacuation zone finder and its hurricane guide.

Bloomberg said that even if the site goes down, updates and information can be received via Twitter by following @nycmayorsoffice and @notifynyc.

All this comes as the city continues to gear up for the meanest storm it has seen since 1985. That’s when Hurricane Gloria blew into town, a Category 2 storm. Hurricane Irene seems to be weakening a bit, but it is still Category 2, and could still easily gather strength before it hits town Sunday.

The eye of Irene is expected to pass over Suffolk County, Long Island. New York City is still expected to get significantly walloped.

Staten Island University Hospital and Coney Island Hospital have been evacuating patients to vacant beds at medical centers on higher ground. NYU Hospitals Center and Veterans Administration Medical Center are the other hospitals in the evacuation zone, according to the New York City Office of Emergency Management.

Bloomberg ordered some of those hospitals, nursing homes and senior centers in the most flood-prone areas of the city to be evacuated by 8 p.m. Friday.

At Staten Island University Hospital, the evacuation began Thursday night. The first ones out: Newborns in the neonatal unit, who were taken to Cohen Children’s Hospital in Lake Success, Long Island, reported the Staten Island Advance.

SIUH began the evacuation of its general population this morning. Patients will be discharged when possible, or sent to a variety of other hospitals and nursing homes that are part of the North Shore-LIJ system. That includes hospitals in Manhassaet, Plainview, Syosset and Huntington on Long Island, the Advance reported.

By noon, most of the 265 patients at Coney Island Hospital have been moved by city bus or ambulance.

“It’s kind of quiet, eerie, just employees walking around. Patients are calling, asking to come into clinics. I’m like, ‘We’re closed!,” Jennifer Ernie, who works in the accounting department, said.

Patient Lovette Lewis was sent home with seizure medication and her doctor’s cell phone number.

“It’s a little scary. It’s a little scary, you know. Cause I do live in the coney island area and it’s a lot you know. It’s scary,” she said.

Bloomberg also revoked all permits for outdoor events in Zone A neighborhoods Sunday, when the worst of Irene’s wrath is expected to hit our area.

Construction sites around the city are preparing for the intense wind and rain. New York City Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri has inspectors checking construction sites throughout the city.

The World Trade Center construction site in lower Manhattan is among those making preparations for Irene. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said it is securing all cranes and construction gear at the site.

Another concern they are working on is debris and small objects at buildings on 1 World Trade Center.

The concern over debris and loose material being blown about doesn’t end there.

Urban planner and architect Lance Jay Brown said the scaffolding that adorns New York City sidewalks should be quite secure, if it has been built up to code specifications. Air-conditioners should also hold in place. The greatest danger is from loose materials that could be turned into projectiles in the howling wind.

Windows above the 10th floor are at greatest risk of shattering. Terrace furniture and other loose things on rooftops could be dangerous.

“Stay away from windows,” Bloomberg urged, adding that there’s always a chance they can be blown in or smashed by debris flying around.

For those with nowhere to go, the city has shelters across Manhattan which will be opening at 4 p.m. Friday. Those shelters are located at

-Seward Park High School at 350 Grand Street
-Baruch College, East 23rd & Lexington
-High School of Graphic Communication Arts, 49th between 9th & 10th
-John Jay College, 59th & 10th
-Hunter College, Park Avenue & 68th Street
-Brandeis High School, 84th between Amsterdam and Columbus
-IS 118, 105th Street & Manhattan Avenue
-PS 171, 103rd between Fifth & Madison
-IS 88, Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. & Frederick Douglass Blvd.
-Bread and Roses High School, Edgecombe Avenue & 136th Street
-City College, Amsterdam Ave. & 138th Street
-IS 90, Jumel Place and 168th Street
-George Washington High School, 193rd Street between Amsterdam and Audobon Avenues

Irene actually weakened a bit overnight, dropping to a Category 2 storm. That means it is packing winds of up to 110 mph. It is still barreling toward North Carolina. It is possible that it will gather strength again.

By the time Irene hits New York, it is expected to bring at least Tropical Storm-force winds of at least 75-90 mph and up to 7-10 inches of rain.

“What we have here is a storm with projected winds that would exceed the level at which the MTA can safely operate services,” Walder said.

Despite all the concern about the storm, the Great White Way seems to be saying “The show must go on.” So far, there have been no cancellations as yet of shows set for this weekend, according to the Broadway League and Off-Broadway League. The two are trade associations. The weekend is the busiest time for Broadway shows.

Boat owners and captains were literally battening down their hatches and securing their vessels at the North Cove Marina in Lower Manhattan.

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