Hurricane Irene, the first major hurricane of the season, is making its way up the coast and looks like it may well be heading our way! And our mayor, determined not to have another Blizzageddon on his hands, is making sure we are prepared. Really, really, prepared. Like, the city is already getting ready to talk about evacuating areas susceptible to flooding like Coney Island, parts of Staten Island and even Battery Park City. "The city has seen the power of mother nature once this week," Bloomberg said at a press conference in Queens this morning, "and mother nature may not be done with us yet."
As far as expectations, the city is monitoring the storm as it makes its way up form the Bahamas, and is prepared for a "worst case" in which it is a Category 1 storm when it passes by us, bringing winds faster than 70 mph and waves up to 12 feet. Hey, maybe we are overdue for a hurricane! But really, do not go to Montauk—Irene is headed right for Long Island.
No call on a NYC evacuation has been made yet, or will be until Friday afternoon at the earliest (the storm is expected to hit us in full on Sunday), but already the mayor is urging New Yorkers to find out if they live in an evacuation zone (you can see the map below, call 311 or check online here) and be prepared to go someplace else (like a friend or relatives) later this weekend if things get bad. Also, he asks New Yorkers to finally get around to making those Go Bags. Hizzoner this morning also pointed out that unnecessarily calling for an evacuation might be a hassle but is better than not. Because the "worst case if we evacuate people and they don't go? They die."
Meanwhile, Bloomberg says he's got pretty much every city department going in overdrive to be prepared for the worst ("We're preparing for all possible scenarios, though there is an element of unpredictability in the weather."). The DEP is checking the city's 143,000 catch basins, the Sanitation Department is making sure the sewers are clear of debris that might cause blockage, and so on. The NYPD's helicopters and 33 boats are at the ready, and so (it says) is the MTA.
One other thing the mayor emphasized this morning? Please, do NOT go swimming if the beaches are closed. Sure, big swells can look like fun, but dying is not a good time.
Update, 8/26: The MTA will be starting a full system shut down on Saturday, 8/27, at noon.