New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency as Hurricane Irene nears.
"In this emergency I am activating all levels of state government to prepare for any situation that may be caused by Hurricane Irene," Cuomo said in a statement obtained by the New York Daily News. "We are communicating with our federal and local partners to track the storm and to plan a coordinated response, and we will deploy resources as needed to the areas expected to be hit the hardest. I urge New Yorkers to personally prepare for hurricane conditions and to cooperate with emergency officials if needed."
The storm, which has forced 200,000 to evacuate North Carolina, may hit New York City this weekend. If the storm passes over the city, the MTA, fearing floods, might have to shut down operations.
On Thursday, the "cone" of the storm moved West, so that it currently looks like the storm will pass over Queens and Brooklyn, not Long Island.
Mayor Bloomberg said Thursday that senior homes and hospitals in designated "Zone A" areas must evacuate, unless the particular facility can withstand such a storm. "We're trying to take precautions for the most vulnerable."
The mayor also said that by 8am Saturday, the city will decide whether or not to enforce a mandatory evacuation for Zone A residents.
New York, unlike Florida or other Hurricane-prone cities, appears to be unprepared for such an event, though the Office of Emergency Management released an enlightening PDF on preparing for a natural disaster. Or you could browse a list of evacuation routes here. The International Business Times also has a good story on the dangers of a hurricane hitting New York.
While the category 3 hurricane of 1938 in Long Island killed 50, a new storm would wreak far worse havoc in those areas, according to the New York Times. "The dense development of towns on eastern Long Island in the decades since the 1938 storm could mean tremendous losses in a future storm."
Reuters writes that the last serious storm to hit New York was in 1821, "causing a 13 feet storm surge that inundated the entirety of lower Manhattan."
Mayor Bloomberg is urging New York City residents living in low-lying areas to line up a place to stay on high ground ahead of possible evacuations this weekend due to Hurricane.