New York considers possible hurricane evacuations

NEW YORK Thu Aug 25, 2011 1:02pm EDT

Hurricane Irene in a satellite image taken August 25, 2011. REUTERS/NOAA

Hurricane Irene in a satellite image taken August 25, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/NOAA

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City prepared to evacuate coastal areas and rescue stranded New Yorkers with a fleet of police boats in case the city gets socked by Hurricane Irene this weekend.

"We hope for the best but we prepare for the worst and that's why I think this city is ready for this weekend," Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters on Thursday while outlining the city's hurricane preparations.

Irene, now a powerful Category 3 hurricane battering the Bahamas, was projected to move up the East Coast, possibly hitting New York late Saturday or Sunday.

Forecasters said Irene would likely weaken as it moved north and could hit Long Island to the east of New York City as a Category 2 storm.

"At this point the forecast does not indicate the storm will hit New York City with that strength but we certainly will see its effects here including tropical storm like conditions such as heavy rains and winds of 60 mph or more," Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg, who was politically damaged by an insufficient city response to a blizzard in December, said the city had activated a command center at the Office of Emergency Management and that all the city's emergency response agencies had additional staff at the ready.

Police were positioning 50 launches at station houses in low-lying areas and the police department's Special Operations Division had another 33 boats plus several helicopters ready to rescue New Yorkers if needed, Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg was prepared to order mandatory evacuations from low-lying areas if needed, but "only in the worst of circumstances." He said the city might need decide on evacuations some time on Friday, depending on the speed and track of the storm.

City hospitals have tested emergency generators and filled their fuel tanks while ensuring they have adequate medical supplies in case deliveries were cut off, Bloomberg said.

Heavy equipment was being moved to high ground and catch basins for storm water were being cleared of debris ahead of time to prevent flooding, Bloomberg said.

The city was doubling its outreach for homeless people, to be ready to move them quickly into shelters, and a city program for homebound elderly would delivery extra meals, the mayor said.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Mark Egan and Jackie Frank)

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Comments (3)
RikkiDoxx wrote:
Did they do the same thing during the devastating 1944 hurricane? No, people fended for themselves.

Aug 25, 2011 12:22pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
John2244 wrote:
In Manhattan, there is only one place that has potential flooding problems and that’s Battery Park City. It wasnt around in 1944 Most of Manhattan is higher ground than Florida. Also the outer coastal sections of Queens were not so populated then. Thats basically zone A of flooding. So its really these locations that would be evacuated and its not like Florda where you have to go far. Just 2 miles up the road is enough to get on high ground.

Makes sense to evacuate the flood risk area’s of less than 50,000 people out of 10 million so those 50,000 dont overwhelm emergency service with 9-11 calls. The bigger problem is wind damage which could hit all of New York and thats what Emergency services needs to prepare for and its impossible to evacuate that zone.

Its just called good planning – by the way 1944 was not really a direct hit on New York – it was 100 miles to the East.

Aug 25, 2011 4:44pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
KyuuAL wrote:
All this “hurricane response with media sensationalism” didn’t really kick in until the 1990s. Not even sure why 1944 was mentioned, considering WW2 was still going on.

Aug 25, 2011 5:43pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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