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Hurricane Irene 2011: More Than 2 Million People Told To Move To Safer Places


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MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (AP) -- Whipping up trouble before ever reaching land, Hurricane Irene zeroed in Friday for a catastrophic run up the Eastern Seaboard. More than 2 million people were told to move to safer places, and New York City ordered the nation's biggest subway system shut down for the first time because of a natural disaster.


As the storm's outermost bands of wind and rain began to lash the Outer Banks of North Carolina, authorities in points farther north begged people to get out of harm's way. The hurricane was still packing 100 mph winds late Friday, and officials in the Northeast, not used to tropical weather, feared it could wreak devastation.

"Don't wait. Don't delay," said President Barack Obama, who decided to cut short his summer vacation by a day and return to Washington. "I cannot stress this highly enough: If you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you have to take precautions now."

Senior hurricane specialist Richard Pasch of the National Hurricane Center said there were signs that the hurricane may have weakened slightly, but strong winds continued to extend 90 miles from its center.

The moment Saturday when the eye of the hurricane crosses land "is not as important as just being in that big swath," Pasch said. "And unfortunately, it's a big target."

Hurricane warnings were issued from North Carolina to New York, and watches were posted farther north, on the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard off Massachusetts. Evacuation orders covered at least 2.3 million people, including 1 million in New Jersey, 315,000 in Maryland, 300,000 in North Carolina, 200,000 in Virginia and 100,000 in Delaware.

"This is probably the largest number of people that have been threatened by a single hurricane in the United States," said Jay Baker, a geography professor at Florida State University.

New York City ordered more than 300,000 people who live in flood-prone areas to leave, including Battery Park City at the southern tip of Manhattan, Coney Island and the beachfront Rockaways. But it was not clear how many would do it, how they would get out or where they would go. Most New Yorkers don't have a car.

On top of that, the city said it would shut down the subways and buses at noon Saturday, only a few hours after the first rain is expected to fall. The transit system carries about 5 million people on an average weekday, fewer on weekends. It has been shut down several times before, including during a transit workers' strike in 2005 and after the Sept. 11 attacks a decade ago, but never for weather.

Late Friday, aviation officials said they would close the five main New York City-area airports to arriving domestic and international flights beginning at noon on Saturday. Many departures also were canceled.

The airports are John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia, Stewart International and Teterboro.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said there was little authorities could do to force people to leave.

"We do not have the manpower to go door-to-door and drag people out of their homes," he said. "Nobody's going to get fined. Nobody's going to go to jail. But if you don't follow this, people may die."

Shelters were opening Friday afternoon, and the city was placed under its first hurricane warning since 1985.

Transit systems in New Jersey and Philadelphia also announced plans to shut down, and Washington declared a state of emergency. Boisterous New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie demanded people "get the hell off the beach" in Asbury Park and said: "You're done. Do not waste any more time working on your tan."

Hundreds of thousands of airline passengers were grounded for the weekend. JetBlue Airways said it was scrubbing about 880 flights between Saturday and Monday, most to and from hub airports in New York and Boston. Other airlines said they were waiting to be more certain about Irene's path before announcing more cancellations.

Thousands of people were already without power. In Charleston, S.C., several people had to be rescued after a tree fell on their car.

Defying the orders, hardy holdouts in North Carolina put plywood on windows, gathered last-minute supplies and tied down boats. More than half the people who live on two remote islands, Hatteras and Ocracoke, had ignored orders to leave, and as time to change their minds ran short, officials ordered dozens of body bags. The last ferry from Ocracoke left at 4 p.m. Friday.

"I anticipate we're going to have people floating on the streets, and I don't want to leave them lying there," said Richard Marlin, fire chief for one of the seven villages on Hatteras. "The Coast Guard will either be pulling people off their roofs like in Katrina or we'll be scraping them out of their yards."

Officially, Irene was expected to make landfall Saturday near Morehead City, on the southern end of the Outer Banks, the barrier island chain. But long before the eye crossed the coastline, the blustery winds and intermittent rains were already raking the coast. By Friday evening 50 mph winds were measured at Wrightsville Beach, N.C.

Some took to shelters for protection.

Susan Kinchen, her daughter and 5-month-old granddaughter came to West Carteret High School with about 50 others. She said they didn't feel safe in their trailer, and the Louisiana native was reminded of how her old trailer lost its roof to Hurricane Katrina, almost six years ago to the day, on Aug. 29, 2005.

"We live in a trailer with her," said Kinchen, referring to the infant. "I'm not taking any chances."

Hurricane center meteorologist David Zelinsky said earlier Friday that he expected the storm to arrive as a Category 2 or 3 hurricane. Later in the day, other forecasts showed it would strike most of the coast as a Category 1. The scale runs from 1, barely stronger than a tropical storm, to a monstrous 5. On Friday night, Irene was a Category 2.

The hurricane center said Irene could weaken into a tropical storm before reaching New England, but that even below hurricane strength it would be powerful and potentially destructive.

Regardless of how fierce the storm is when it makes landfall, the coast of North Carolina was expected to get winds of more than 100 mph and waves perhaps as high as 11 feet, Zelinsky said.

"This is a really large hurricane and it is dangerous," he said. "Whether it is a Category 2 or 3 at landfall, the effects are still going to be strong. I would encourage people to take it seriously."

Officer Edward Mann was driving down the narrow streets of Nags Head looking for cars in driveways, a telltale sign of people planning to ride out the storm against all advice.

Bucky Domanski, 71, was working in his garage when Mann walked in. He told the officer he planned to stay. Mann handed Domanski a piece of paper with details about the county's evacuation order. It warned that hurricane force winds would flood the roads and there might not be power or water until well after the storm.

"You understand we can't help you during the storm," Mann said.

"I understand," Domanski replied.

Later as heavy rains drenched Nags Head, Domanski had cooked his favorite dinner of veal parmesan and spaghetti for his wife, Joy.

He planned to watch TV, but knows his satellite dish and power could go out any time. He has plenty of flashlights and candles and plans to go to sleep early.

"So far everything is OK. The rain isn't bad. I know it could change. But I just don't think it's going to be as bad as they say. I'm hopeful," he said.

After the Outer Banks, the next target for Irene was the Hampton Roads region of southeast Virginia, a jagged network of inlets and rivers that floods easily. Emergency officials have said the region is more threatened by storm surge, the high waves that accompany a storm, than wind. Gas stations there were low on fuel Friday, and grocery stores scrambled to keep water and bread on the shelves.

In Delaware, Gov. Jack Markell ordered an evacuation of coastal areas.

"We could be open tonight for business, but there's a very fine line between doing the right thing and putting our staff at risk," said Alex Heidenberger, whose family owns Mango Mike's restaurant in Bethany Beach. He expects to lose $40,000 to $50,000 in business. "It's not so much we're worried about the storm coming tonight, but we want to give them a chance to get out of town and get their affairs in order."

Officials at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington said they were speeding the transfer of their last remaining patients to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. The transfer had been planned for Sunday.

In Baltimore's Fells Point neighborhood, one of the city's oldest waterfront neighborhoods, people filled sandbags and placed them at the entrances to buildings. A few miles away at the Port of Baltimore, vehicles and cranes continued to unload huge cargo ships that were rushing to offload and get away from the storm.

In New York, the Mets postponed games scheduled for Saturday and Sunday with the visiting Atlanta Braves. The Jets and Giants moved their preseason NFL game up to 2 p.m. Saturday from 7 p.m., but then postponed it until Monday.

And in Atlantic City, N.J., all 11 casinos announced plans to shut down Friday, only the third time that has happened in the 33-year history of legalized gambling in that state.

"I like gambling, but you don't play with this," Pearson Callender said as he waited for a Greyhound bus out of town. "People are saying this is an act of God. I just need to get home to be with my family."

Bobby Plough was standing outside his restaurant, the Cypress Creek Grill, in Elizabeth City, N.C., putting sheet metal in front of the picture windows in New that normally offer an unobstructed view of the boat launch.

Plough moved to the harbor town on the Pasquotank River in northeastern North Carolina from Corpus Christi, Texas, 18 years ago. Water has never made it inside his restaurant but he wasn't taking any chances.

"Hurricanes are just a way of life here," he said. "You deal with them and move on."


Jennifer Peltz reported from New York. Associated Press writers contributing to this report were Tim Reynolds in Miami; Bruce Shipkowski in Surf City, N.J.; Geoff Mulvihill in Trenton, N.J.; Wayne Parry in Atlantic City, N.J.; Eric Tucker in Washington; Martha Waggoner in Raleigh, N.C.; Mitch Weiss in Nags Head, N.C.; Alex Dominguez in Baltimore; Brock Vergakis in Virginia Beach, Va.; Jonathan Fahey in New York; and Seth Borenstein in Washington.

Today 8:53 AM 'I'm The Captain Of The Ship. I Can't Leave'

HuffPost's Matt Sledge reports:

Bob Petrano, manning the desk at the Coney Island Bait & Tackle shop Friday morning, said, "I hope I'm here come Monday."

"I'm the captain of the ship. I can't leave," Petrano said. "I own the building. Where am I gonna go? I gotta watch out for things. Besides, I think it's not going to be too bad. I have a feeling."

Read the full story here.

Today 8:41 AM First Community In Union County, New Jersey Orders Mandatory Evacuation

Cranford Patch reports:

Township officials have ordered the mandatory evacuation of the township's flood zone starting at Noon on Saturday in anticipation of flooding from Hurricane Irene.

Police Chief Eric Mason and Mayor Dan Aschenbach announced the evacuation shortly after 9 a.m. on Saturday saying the township is likely to receive 10 inches of rain from the hurricane which is currently barreling towards the northeast.

Read the full report here.

Today 8:30 AM Hurricane Warning And Watches In Effect

As of 8 a.m. EDT this morning, the following warning and watches were in effect, according to The National Hurricane Center:









Learn more here.

Today 8:25 AM 10 Major Roads Closed In NC
@ cnnbrk : 10 major roads have closed and airports have shut in North Carolina because of Hurricane #Irene, Gov. Bev Perdue says
Today 8:19 AM Bloomberg: 'The Time To Leave Is Right Now'

The Associated Press reports:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged those who needed to leave to do so right away Saturday morning. The city doesn't have enough resources to evacuate everyone after the weather worsens, he said about 2 1/2 hours before the transit system was to shut down.

"Staying behind is dangerous, staying behind is foolish, and it's against the law, and we urge everyone in the evacuation zones not to wait until gale-force winds," he said in a news conference from Coney Island as rain began to fall. "The time to leave is right now."

Transit fares and tolls were waived in evacuated areas. Officials hoped most residents would stay with family and friends, and for the rest the city opened nearly 100 shelters with a capacity of 71,000 people.

More here.

Today 7:57 AM NYC Medical Centers Take Precautions
@ NYCMayorsOffice : Some 7,000 patients in hospitals, nursing homes and adult care facilities in Zone A and the Rockaways have already been evacuated. #Irene
Today 7:36 AM Storm Causing Massive Power Outages
@ AP : Hurricane Irene knocks out power to nearly 200,000 homes in North Carolina, mostly in Wilmington area: -EF
Today 7:18 AM 'Hangers-on' In North Carolina
@ cnnbrk : Most people left North Carolina ahead of Hurricane Irene, but some 'hangers-on' stayed to see storm, Gov. Perdue says
Today 7:07 AM Irene Will Remain Hurricane In Mid-Atlantic

Via @breakingnews: Irene weakens some at NC landfall but will remain hurricane in mid-Atlantic, New England, says National Hurricane Center - AP

Today 0:19 AM President Declares State Of Emergency In Connecticut

From the White House:

The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of Connecticut and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from Hurricane Irene beginning on August 26, 2011, and continuing. The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in all counties in the State of Connecticut.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding.

Today 0:00 AM North Carolina Town Goes Dark
@ AP : MT: Morehead City, N.C., just went dark as wind from #Irene intensifies, @mbieseck says. #hurricane
08/26/2011 11:25 PM Hurricane Moving Toward North Carolina Coast
@ AP : BREAKING: #Hurricane #Irene moving north-northeast toward North Carolina coast; no big change in strength seen before reaches land. -JM
08/26/2011 11:01 PM Tornado Watch For Parts Of Virginia

The Weather Channel tweets:

@ twc_hurricane : New Tornado Watch until 11am ET for parts of VA including Norfolk and VA Beach #irene
08/26/2011 10:45 PM Hurricane Preparations And Dangers

To check out an assessment of hurricane preparations and dangers by state, click here.

08/26/2011 10:41 PM Obama Declares State Of Emergency In VA, MA

CNN tweets:

@ cnnbrk : President Obama declares state of emergency in Virginia and Massachusetts ahead of Hurricane Irene.
08/26/2011 10:33 PM More On Suspension Of Some New York MTA Fares

Gothamist has the details:

With the mandatory evacuation of NYC's Zone A and the Rockaways, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an Executive Order (#18) to give a little reprieve by suspending some MTA fares and tolls in those areas. Residents are to be out of those areas by 5 p.m. on Saturday as Hurricane Irene heads north and Cuomo said, "The only approach to a storm of this magnitude is to act preemptively. Waiving fares may be the factor that convinces some people to leave promptly when they might otherwise be tempted to stay and confront this hurricane."

More details on the fare suspensions here.

08/26/2011 9:53 PM Strength Of The Hurricane

National Weather Service Administrator Jack Hayes tweets:

@ JackatNWS : #Irene should maintain its current intensity or weaken only slightly until landfall over #NC in 12-18 hrs: #WRN
08/26/2011 9:39 PM 'Water Is The No. 1 Killer'

The Associated Press reports:

Hurricane Irene's most worrisome weapon is water.

There's just way too much of it: storm surge pushing seawater ashore and heavy rainfall causing flooding. That's not unusual with hurricanes, but with Irene there are a couple of added factors that are making meteorologists nervous.

This massive, slow-moving hurricane is forecast to soak an already drenched Northeast and may come ashore at a time when tides are unusually high, making storm surge even worse – 4 to 11 feet with waves on top, forecasters say.

"Water is the No. 1 killer," retired National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield said Friday afternoon. "That's going to cause the greatest loss of life."

Read the full story here.

08/26/2011 9:04 PM Irene Status Update
@ BreakingNews : Hurricane Irene update: sustained winds, 100 mph, moving 13 mph, 140 miles off Cape Lookout, N.C.
08/26/2011 8:47 PM Pictures From South Carolina

Mount Pleasant Patch in South Carolina posted a series of photos illustrating Hurricane Irene's power. The photos can be found here.

08/26/2011 8:43 PM North Carolina Power Outages Reported

StarNews weather reporter Andrew Dunn tweets of reported North Carolina power outages:

@ andrew_dunn : More than 2,200 people without power in Brunswick County. #brunsco
@ andrew_dunn : About 7,400 without power in New Hanover County. #NCIrene
08/26/2011 8:00 PM All 5 Major NYC Airports Will Close To Arriving Flights
@ BreakingNews : All 5 major NYC-area aiports to close to arriving flights at noon Saturday due to Hurricane Irene
08/26/2011 7:26 PM Dem Congressman: 'Sinful' For GOP To Tie Disaster Aid To Spending Cuts

HuffPost's Jennifer Bendery reports:

WASHINGTON -- As East Coasters brace for what some say will be a historic pummel by Hurricane Irene, at least one lawmaker is fuming over a requirement by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) that any potential emergency disaster aid be offset by spending cuts.

"It is sinful to require us to cut somewhere ... in order to provide emergency disaster assistance for American citizens," Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) told The Huffington Post on Friday.

Full story here.

08/26/2011 7:13 PM NASA Prepares For Irene

MSNBC reports that NASA is on alert due to the potential threat posed by Hurricane Irene:

NASA, like much of the U.S. East Coast, is battening down the hatches against the arrival of Hurricane Irene. NASA centers and facilities from New York City to Florida took measures to prepare for the storm's onslaught this weekend.

Hurricane Irene is a Category 2 storm currently, and it's expected to batter the East Coast with rain and a storm surge that could cause flooding in many low-lying areas. NASA has several potentially vulnerable space centers in the region, and employees at each of them are making their own preparations to weather Irene.

Full story here.

08/26/2011 6:53 PM Glenn Beck: Irene Is A 'Blessing'

Glenn Beck called Hurricane Irene a "blessing" on his Friday radio show, saying it would teach people to be prepared for disasters. Watch the clip here.

08/26/2011 6:06 PM Irene Continues To Weaken But 'Storm's Size Is Certainly Impressive'

Update from meteorologist Jeff Masters:

A 1:32 pm EDT center fix by an Air Force Reserve aircraft found that Irene's eyewall is still gone, and the central pressure had risen to 951 mb from a low of 942 mb this morning. The winds measured in Irene near the surface support classifying it as a strong Category 1 hurricane or weak Category 2. Satellite imagery shows a distinctly lopsided appearance to Irene's cloud pattern, with not much heavy thunderstorm activity on the southwest side. This is due to moderate southwesterly wind shear of 10 - 20 knots. This shear is disrupting Irene's circulation and has cut off upper-level outflow along the south side of the hurricane.
08/26/2011 6:04 PM Preseason Games Postponed
@ BreakingNews : NY Giants and Jets now postpone preseason game to Monday after first moving it to earlier Saturday
08/26/2011 5:48 PM NJ Transit And AMTRAK Suspensions Beginning Saturday Afternoon
@ NotifyNYC : Suspensions region-wide for NJ Transit and AMTRAK beginning Saturday afternoon, Aug, 27th.,
08/26/2011 5:31 PM Hurricane Irene Generates Anxiety And Disbelief On Coney Island

HuffPost's Matt Sledge reports from Coney Island, where residents have been told they must evacuate.

On Friday afternoon Mayor Michael Bloomberg updated New Yorkers from City Hall in Manhattan on Hurricane Irene's progress.

"The sun is shining, but don't be misled. There is a very dangerous storm headed in our direction," Bloomberg said.

But miles away on famed Coney Island, in the outer borough of Brooklyn, preparations were commencing with an unevenness that belied the city's diversity of attitudes. Just as the mayor said, the sun was shining. And the beach was packed -- as it likely will be, until New York City's Parks Department closes it Friday night.

08/26/2011 5:17 PM Update: JFK Airport To Be Closed Saturday At Noon To International Arrivals
@ NYTMetro : BREAKING: Port Authority now clarifies that #JFK airport to close to international arrivals at noon. Check on other flights. #irene
@ NYTMetro : BREAKING: JFK Airport to be closed on Saturday at noon, Port Authority says. #irene
08/26/2011 5:15 PM Boats On The Jersey Shore

How are captains of local boats preparing to protect themselves when Hurricane Irene hits? Brick Patch reports:

For many boaters, the best method of protecting their boat from damage in a hurricane involves removing it from the water completely.

For the larger boats, however, taking it out of the water completely isn't a realistic option.

08/26/2011 4:54 PM Storm Surge At Atlantic Beach, North Carolina
@ LeoJuarez : #Irene storm surge coming in to Atlantic Beach, NC.

08/26/2011 4:50 PM Mesmerizing Video Of Hurricane Irene Just watch. From tropical wave on August 19 to a Category 2 hurricane on the 26, Hurricane Irene's movements are tracked by National Environmental, Satellite, Data And Information Service (NOAA)

8/26/2011 4:31 PM NJ Governor: Get The Hell Off The Beach

@ GovChristie : Get the hell off the beach. Use common sense and get to safety as soon as possible. Watch video now: #irene
08/26/2011 5:15 PM Boats On The Jersey Shore

How are captains of local boats preparing to protect themselves when Hurricane Irene hits? Brick Patch reports:

For many boaters, the best method of protecting their boat from damage in a hurricane involves removing it from the water completely.

For the larger boats, however, taking it out of the water completely isn't a realistic option.

08/26/2011 4:54 PM Storm Surge At Atlantic Beach, North Carolina
@ LeoJuarez : #Irene storm surge coming in to Atlantic Beach, NC.

08/26/2011 4:50 PM Mesmerizing Video Of Hurricane Irene

Just watch. From tropical wave on August 19 to a Category 2 hurricane on the 26, Hurricane Irene's movements are tracked by National Environmental, Satellite, Data And Information Service (NOAA).

08/26/2011 4:31 PM NJ Governor: Get The Hell Off The Beach
@ GovChristie : Get the hell off the beach. Use common sense and get to safety as soon as possible. Watch video now: #irene
08/26/2011 4:20 PM NYC Fare Suspensions
@ thomaskaplan : MTA announces limited fare suspensions: As of 8p tonight, all buses free. Subway & rail fares suspended in mandatory evac zones. #Irene
08/26/2011 4:19 PM Domestic Flights Cancelled
@ breakingweather : 2,100 flights cancelled for Saturday and 4,200 flights for Sunday in US
08/26/2011 4:00 PM Free Internet In NYC
@ NYTMetro : Free #wifi in #nyc: Towerstream says will open network in Manhattan (smartfi) from 6 pm Friday until end of emergency. #irene
08/26/2011 3:42 PM Sold Out
@ MatthewWells : Sold out! Lower Manhattan hardware store swept of essentials (pic) #irene

08/26/2011 3:30 PM What's The Deal With Hurricane Names?

Ever wonder why you hear some hurricane names again? Or why some names disappear?

Here's the scoop on hurricane names.

08/26/2011 3:18 PM Looking For New York City Volunteers

The Red Cross is looking for 1,000 volunteers to help over a 5 day period in New York City during the storm and its aftermath. Jordan Humphrey of the Red Cross tells The Village Voice they're looking for anyone who's been through Red Cross reserve training, plus people who've been through other types of Red Cross training -- as well as EMTs, mental health professionals and nursing professionals.

08/26/2011 3:16 PM Windy, Windy, Windy

A whopping 46 million people will experience 50 mph winds or greater with this storm, reports CNN live.

08/26/2011 3:08 PM Rabbis Say Okay To Listen To Radio On The Sabbath

Observant Jews are typically prohibited from using electronic equipment on the Sabbath. Not this weekend.

Observant Jews are permitted to sidestep traditional Sabbath rules on electronics and listen to the radio as Hurricane Irene bears down on the East Coast, according to guidelines distributed to hundreds of Orthodox rabbis.
08/26/2011 3:05 PM Most Recent NASA Image

This one was taken at 2:05 p.m. from NASA's Aqua satellite.

08/26/2011 3:03 PM Nuclear Plants In Irene's Path

Here's a list.

Nuclear reactors sit on eight coastal sites along the Eastern seaboard in the projected path of Hurricane Irene. They are built to withstand winds much stronger than those expected from Irene. They are also equipped with backup generators protected from flooding to provide power to keep the reactor cool if outside power is lost. Still, some will likely be shut down as a precaution in advance of Irene's winds and heavy rains.
08/26/2011 2:58 PM American Red Cross: Evacuation Shelters Open
@ RedCross : Evacuation shelters open now in NC, VA, DE, , NJ, NY, MD. #irene
08/26/2011 2:56 PM Hurricane Warning Issued For NYC, Coastal CT And Martha's Vineyard

A hurricane warning has been issued for New York City, coastal Connecticut and Martha's Vineyard.

08/26/2011 2:54 PM Obama To Declare Federal Emergency In New York State
@ thomaskaplan : NYT EXCLUSIVE: President Obama to declare federal emergency in New York State in advance of #Irene, granting request by Cuomo.
08/26/2011 2:52 PM New York City Beaches Close At 6 P.M.
@ NYCMayorsOffice : All City beaches will close tonight at 6pm and remain closed Saturday & Sunday. #Irene
08/26/2011 2:46 PM Photos Around New York City

From HuffPost reporter Matt Sledge:

Water supplies running thin at a Pathmark supermarket in Coney Island today.

National Guard vehicles fuel up at a gas station in Coney Island.

Cots at the ready in an evacuation center, school IS187 in Brooklyn.

08/26/2011 2:35 PM PHOTO: Storm Surge At Battery Park During The 1938 Hurricane

Here's a historic photo of a tidal surge at Battery Park, New York City, during the 1938 hurricane:

08/26/2011 2:33 PM NJ Transit Suspends Service Saturday

From ScotchPlains-Fanwood Patch:

Local residents should plan to stay put this weekend. New Jersey Transit will suspend all rail service Saturday starting at noon, and all bus, light rail and Access Link service starting at 6 p.m., according to a service advisory issued by the agency Friday afternoon.
08/26/2011 2:26 PM WATCH: Chris Christie Addresses New Jersey On Hurricane Irene

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie talks live about preparations for Hurricane Irene.

08/26/2011 2:03 PM Full Text Of Mayor Bloomberg's Comments On Hurricane Irene Preparations

Read what New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had to say about Hurricane Irene preparations here. Lots of good detail for New Yorkers.

08/26/2011 1:48 PM Live Stream From 'Twister Chasers'

Watch a live stream of Hurricane Irene at the Outer Banks of Hatteras Island, North Carolina.

08/26/2011 1:38 PM Don't Forget Your Pets

As Hurricane Irene approaches, make sure you plan evacuation preparations for your pets, as well as your family. Some 600,000 pets were killed or left homeless from Hurricane Katrina six years ago. Here are some pet preparation tips to ensure their safety.

08/26/2011 1:07 PM PHOTO: Hurricane Irene Approaches

This picture was captured at 12:30 p.m EDT by the folks at NASA:

08/26/2011 12:58 PM Am I In A New York City Evacuation Zone?

Thanks to the New York Times, all you need to do is type in your address to see if you are in an NYC evacuation zone. The map also shows the closest evacuation center.

08/26/2011 12:53 PM Delta Cancels Sunday Flights
@ DeltaAssist : Flts departing to/from JFK, EWR & LGA will be cancelled on Sunday 08/28 due to the forecast of Hurricane Irene ^TB
08/26/2011 12:49 PM New Jersey To Suspend Gaming

From Reuters:

New Jersey's Atlantic City casinos must suspend gaming as of noon Saturday due to Hurricane Irene, state Governor Chris Christie said on Friday.
08/26/2011 12:45 PM Airlines Cut Flights In Preparation For Irene

From Reuters:

U.S. airlines have cut at least 1,000 flights and are moving airplanes out of the anticipated path of Hurricane Irene, while airports are taking steps to minimize damage from the storm.

AMR Corp's American Airlines is "battening the hatches at our airport operations," said spokesman Ed Martelle.

08/26/2011 12:44 PM National Guard Deploying Soldiers And Airmen To Support New York

@ NYGovCuomo : The @NationalGuardNY will deploy up to 900 soldiers and airmen over 100 vehicles to support civil authorities #IRENE
08/26/2011 12:33 PM Head Of FEMA Discusses Hurricane Irene

From AOL Government:

Craig Fugate has always been a man with a mission- and all the more so this week as the nation's leading emergency responder, as the head of Federal Emergency Management Agency, tries to get 60 million people on the East Coast ready for Hurricane Irene.

Fugate, however, is also representative of a growing number of federal leaders who grasp the power and importance of using social media as a pivotal way for government to engage the public especially during emergencies.

08/26/2011 12:27 PM Video Of Hurricane Irene From Space

Listen as stunned NASA astronauts describe the storm as they pass over it.

"That is one scary big storm," one astronaut from the International Space Station told ground control.

"Wow, um, we' there any word on the expectations for further strengthening before additional landfall?"

08/26/2011 12:06 PM Mayor Bloomberg: Winds Expected To Exceed 40MPH On Saturday
@ NYCMayorsOffice : #Irene’s ground speed has accelerated. Gale forces winds of 40mph now expected to reach NYC by 9 pm Saturday.
08/26/2011 11:59 AM Mayor Bloomberg: Mandatory Evacuations In New York City

In a live address to New York City residents, Mayor Bloomberg announced that he is ordering mandatory evacuations of low-lying areas and all of the Rockaways by 5 p.m. on Saturday. This is the first time New York City has ever had mandatory evacuations. "This is very serious," he said. "Do not be fooled."

Check the map here to see the New York City evacuation zones.

08/26/2011 11:54 AM NYC Hardware Stores Busy
@ jonah_green : If you dont want to panic, then don't visit a hardware store right now #Irene
08/26/2011 11:52 AM More Details On NYC Subway Shutdown

New York City will shut down all transit service Saturday at noon in preparation of the storm, Gov. Cuomo said.

The New York Times reports that "commuter rail lines that serve Long Island, Westchester County and Connecticut will also be shut down.

While the storm isn't expected to hit New York, if at all, until early Sunday, the city was taking precautions to make the system shuts down properly before the storm begins. Officials say that it takes eight hours to shut down the MTA, which is the largest transit system in the country.

If winds reach 60mph, all bridges will be closed as well, the governor said.

-- HuffPost's Jonah Green

08/26/2011 11:41 AM WATCH: New York City Mayor Addresses Residents

Watch live as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg addresses residents on how to prepare for the coming hurricane.

08/26/2011 11:31 AM Picture: Irene Almost 1/3 Size Of East Coast


NASA satellite data shows its diameter is now about 510 miles -- roughly 1/3 the length of the U.S. Atlantic coastline. Hurricane watches are in effect for much of the East Coast.


08/26/2011 11:20 AM New York City Subway To Shut Down At Noon Saturday
@ thomaskaplan : BREAKING: New York City subway system to shut down at noon on Saturday in preparation for #Irene, @NYGovCuomo announces.
@ thomaskaplan : All of MTA will shut down - subway, buses, LIRR, Metro-North - at noon Sat. If winds >60 MPH, Thruway, GW Bridge, other bridges will close.
08/26/2011 11:14 AM New York City Subway To Shut Down At Noon Saturday
@ thomaskaplan : BREAKING: New York City subway system to shut down at noon on Saturday in preparation for #Irene, @NYGovCuomo announces.
08/26/2011 11:12 AM Potential Power Outages 'For Millions'

According to utility officials and weather forecasters, Hurricane Irene may result in long-lasting power outages for millions.

An unusually large number of people may be affected by Irene because it is forecast to stay just offshore – and thus retain much of its power – as it inches up the coast from North Carolina to New England. When a hurricane hits land, it quickly loses steam.
08/26/2011 11:08 AM Weather Underground Holds Live Twitter Q&A On Irene Now

Have a question about Hurricane Irene? Ask it on Twitter now. Tweet your question plus the hashtag #WUQandA between 1 and 1:30 p.m. and the folks at Weather Underground will try to respond.

Follow the conversation here.

08/26/2011 10:59 AM Long Beach Island, New Jersey, Faces Mandatory Evacuations
@ breakingweather : Mandatory evacuations of Long Beach Island, NJ
08/26/2011 10:58 AM Obama Will Return To White House A Day Early
@ edhenryTV : WH spokesman Josh Earnest just informed reporters the President told his "team" just moments ago he wants to depart a day early #Irene
08/26/2011 10:51 AM Fort Monroe In Virginia Must Evacuate Today

The U.S. army is ordering the evacuation of Fort Monroe, a military installation at the southern tip of the Virginia Peninsula.

From its website:

A mandatory evacuation of the installation has been ordered to be complete by 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 26. The installation will be closed as of 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 26 and will not open until the storm passes and a damage assessment has been completed.

Fort Monroe is home to the Training And Doctrine Command, "which combines the training of soldiers with the development of operational doctrine and the development and procurement of new weapons systems."

08/26/2011 10:27 AM Irene Weakens, Still Projected To Be Category 2 When It Hits NC

Meteorologist Jeff Masters, writing at Weather Underground, reports on the latest data available about Hurricane Irene's strength:

Satellite data and measurements from the Hurricane Hunters show that Irene is weakening. A 9:21 am EDT center fix by an Air Force Reserve aircraft found that Irene's eyewall had collapsed, and the central pressure had risen to 946 mb from a low of 942 mb this morning. The highest winds measured at their flight level of 10,000 feet were 125 mph, which would normally support classifying Irene as a Category 3 hurricane with 115 mph winds.

However, these winds were not mixing down to the surface in the way we typically see with hurricanes, and the strongest surface winds seen by the aircraft with their SFMR instrument were just 90 mph in the storm's northeast eyewall. Assuming the aircraft missed sampling the strongest winds of the hurricane, it's a good guess that Irene is a mid-strength Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds.

08/26/2011 10:08 AM President Obama: Take Irene Seriously

At 11:30, President Obama made a short announcement on Hurricane Irene, urging citizens to prepare for the impending hurricane now.

The text of his remarks is below:

Good morning, everybody. I want to say a few words about Hurricane Irene, urge Americans to take it seriously, and provide an overview of our ongoing federal preparations for what's likely to be an extremely dangerous and costly storm.

I’ve just convened a conference call with senior members of my emergency response team and directed them to make sure that we are bringing all federal resources to bear and deploying them properly to cope not only with the storm but also its aftermath. I’ve also spoken this morning with governors and mayors of major metropolitan areas along the Eastern Seaboard to let them know that this administration is in full support of their efforts to prepare for this storm and stands ready to fully support their response efforts. And we will continue to stay in close contact with them.

I cannot stress this highly enough: If you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you have to take precautions now. Don’t wait. Don’t delay. We all hope for the best, but we have to be prepared for the worst. All of us have to take this storm seriously. You need to listen to your state and local officials, and if you are given an evacuation order, please follow it. Just to underscore this point: We ordered an aircraft carrier group out to sea to avoid this storm yesterday. So if you’re in the way of this hurricane, you should be preparing now.

If you aren’t sure how to prepare your families or your home or your business for a hurricane or any other emergency, then you can visit -- that's -- or That's

Now, since last weekend, FEMA has been deploying its Incident Management Assistance Teams to staging areas in communities up and down the coast. FEMA has millions of liters of water, millions of meals, and tens of thousands of cots and blankets, along with other supplies, pre-positioned along the Eastern Seaboard. And the American Red Cross has already begun preparing shelters in North Carolina and other states.

These resources are all being coordinated with our state and local partners, and they stand ready to be deployed as necessary. But, again, if you are instructed to evacuate, please do so. It's going to take time for first responders to begin rescue operations and to get the resources we've pre-positioned to people in need. So the more you can do to be prepared now -- making a plan, make a supply kit, know your evacuation route, follow instructions of your local officials -- the quicker we can focus our resources after the storm on those who need help the most.

To sum up, all indications point to this being a historic hurricane. Although we can’t predict with perfect certainty the impact of Irene over the next few days, the federal government has spent the better part of last week working closely with officials in communities that could be affected by this storm to see to it that we are prepared. So now is the time for residents of these communities -- in the hours that remain -- to do the same. And FEMA and Craig Fugate, the director of FEMA, will be keeping people closely posted in the next 24, 48 hours.


08/26/2011 10:06 AM Economic Impact For New York City

Writing in the New York Times, Nate Silver posits on the financial consequences of a hurricane hitting New York City. His conclusion? A hurricane could wreck economic damage amounting to "tens of billions of dollars, depending on the severity of the storm and how close it comes to the city."

08/26/2011 10:00 AM Homeland Security Secretary: Head Evacuation Orders

Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security secretary, is asking East Coasters to listen to evacuation orders ahead of Hurricane Irene.

Napolitano, whose plea was echoed Friday by Federal Emergency Management Agency director Craig Fugate, said the storm is likely to have an impact well beyond coastal areas and residents should follow whatever instructions are given by local and state authorities.
08/26/2011 9:58 AM How To Track The Hurricane

Here are some helpful tools to track Hurricane Irene.

Storm pulse has an interactive graphic tracking Irene's path.

The National Hurricane Center has up-to-date information here, as well as a Twitter feed.

The Weather Channel has another map tracking the hurricane.

The New York Times has a sleek tracking map as well.

08/26/2011 9:45 AM Tips For Cell Phone Use During The Hurricane

Cell phone companies are working overtime to ensure that coverage isn't lost over the weekend, when Hurricane Irene is expected to storm her way up the East Coast to New York. But just in case, here are some tips to make the most of your cell phone during a natural disaster.

From LittleNeck Patch:

  • Limit non-emergency calls to conserve battery power and free-up wireless networks for emergency agencies and operations.
  • Send brief text messages rather than voice calls for the same reasons as above.
  • Forward your home phone calls to your wireless number if you evacuate.
  • Check weather and news reports on wireless phone applications when power is out.
08/26/2011 9:41 AM How Much Damage Could A Major Hurricane Inflict On New York City?

The short answer is a lot. According to this International Business Times article, if New York City is hit by a major hurricane, it could face destroyed subway systems, intense flooding, dangerous debris and economic paralysis.

In a city like New York, hurricane-force winds could break windows en masse, "especially in the taller buildings that would bear the brunt of powerful gusts that occur at higher elevations," The Wall Street Journal reported in 2010. In a worst-case scenario, this could become a scene out of an apocalyptic movie, in which "the canyons of Manhattan could magnify the winds and would be a deadly place for anyone caught beneath the raining glass."
08/26/2011 9:34 AM Extraordinary Video Of Hurricane Irene From Space

The Atlantic posted an amazing video of Hurricane Irene, shot from 230 miles above Earth. The sheer size of the hurricane is shocking.

08/26/2011 9:31 AM Hurricane Irene Headed To North Carolina First

According to the Weather Channel:

As of 11 a.m. Eastern Time Friday, the center of Hurricane Irene is located about 330 miles south-southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, has winds near 105 miles per hour, and was moving to the north at 14 miles per hour.
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