New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered residents of low-lying coastal areas to leave their homes in advance of Hurricane Irene’s arrival Sunday, the first time a mandatory evacuation order has been imposed.
Residents in the affected neighborhoods must leave by 5 p.m. tomorrow, the mayor said during a City Hall news briefing. It’s the first time New York residents have been ordered to leave their homes ahead of a storm, he said.
Citywide, about 270,000 residents live in the low-lying zones most vulnerable to a storm surge accompanied by high winds and rain, according to the mayor’s office. The neighborhoods include Manhattan’s Battery Park City, home to 39,700; Coney Island and other Brooklyn beach communities, with 180,000; the Rockaways in Queens, where at least 70,000 live, and shore areas of Staten Island, with at least 40,000 residents. Some parts aren’t in low-lying areas so aren’t affected.
“There is no question that we are going to get hit with some wind and high water that is very dangerous,” Bloomberg told reporters.
Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered a shut down of the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s subways, buses and trains starting with their last runs at noon tomorrow. The George Washington and Triborough Bridges also will be among those closed if sustained winds top 60 miles (97 kilometers) an hour, according to a statement from the governor’s office.
The storm, which threatened to inflict the worst destruction in the Northeast since Hurricane Gloria in 1985, may affect more than 65 million people from North Carolina to Maine, or 1-in-5 Americans, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Yesterday, the mayor ordered evacuations of patients in all hospitals and senior citizens in long-term care facilities in the low-lying areas, designated as Zone A by emergency planners. They began moving out this morning.
The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.