Mayor Bloomberg addressed the public this morning on the city's preparedness for Hurricane Irene, which is due to hit us early Sunday morning. He warned residents that they must evacuate Zone A immediately: "Starting at noon today, mass transit is not going to be available if you have to leave. You have to start right now. We've heard that lots of people are leaving and that's great."

Bloomberg spoke while in a Zone A area—Coney Island—explaining that the city is still expecting a Category 1 hurricane, with winds between 55-75 MPH, and called it a "great danger" to the city, and in particular, the 370,000 NYers in the low lying areas. "It's a very serious thing from what we can tell now...if the storm can go east and get away from us, nothing would make us happier. We can't prepare for best case, so we have to prepare for the worst case," he said.

Bloomberg also spoke about Zone B, and called the Rockaways "a special case," because if bridges get closed, there's no way to leave. He said there were 91 emergency shelters for 70,000 people (even though "we don't have beds for 70,000 people"), and he said there were ten teams of firefighters in each borough using school buses to help with the evacuation. However, he advised that no one should wait for a bus to evacuate: "DO THAT RIGHT NOW," he emphasized. Buildings are also turning off their elevators so people don't get stuck in them.

He also addressed the potential damage in lower Manhattan: "It's conceivable there's a lot of water in downtown Manhattan...Let's stop thinking this is something we can play with. Staying behind is dangerous. Staying behind is foolish." He added that Con Ed may have to turn off the grid in parts of the city, because of the dangers: when salt water hits live power cables creates extremely hazardous conditions and may severely damage the grid's infrastructure.

He ended his update with another warning to evacuate, and not underestimate the storm: "In conclusion, you have to leave and start right now. Do not delay. This is just the beginning, this a serious storm, no matter how much the storm weakens. This is not a joke. Your life could be in danger. "

And here are the evacuation zones: