Hurricane Irene: Mayor Bloomberg warns New Yorkers


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Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday morning urged New Yorkers living in low-lying areas to be ready to evacuate for Hurricane Irene.

So, one natural disaster -- the earthquake that shook Gotham! -- wasn’t enough for one week. Now New Yorkers must brace for another, named Irene.


“Now is a very good time to check in with your friends and family in other parts of the city,” Bloomberg said Thursday, “and identify a place to stay if the weather gets bad.”Meanwhile, the tabloid newspapers were ginning up fears with typically hyperbolic headlines.

“MEAN IRENE” screamed the New York Post headline. The article included a weather map dense with swirling clouds and this: “Monster ‘cane zeros in on NYC”

The New York Daily announced: “Monster! Angry Irene roars straight for U.S. & city.” Which was uncharacteristically contextual to include, well, any place outside the five boroughs.

Bloomberg said that residents of areas such as Brooklyn’s Red Hook and Coney Island, Queen’s Far Rockaway and parts of Staten Island should be prepared to face evacuation.

PHOTOS: In the path of Hurricane Irene

He also repeatedly warned New Yorkers: “Do not swim,” no matter how inviting it seems to dip into the water with the rip tides. It’s too dangerous, he said.


View Hurricane Irene track forecast in a larger map
In the last 160 years, only five hurricanes have come within 75 miles of New York City -- the last being Gloria in 1985, according to the Daily News.

But the city wasn’t taking any chances that Irene wouldn’t be the sixth.

Crews were out Thursday cleaning out some of the city’s 143,000 storm drains in flood-prone areas.

On Eastern Long Island, which often bears the brunt of such storms, residents were pulling their boats onto shore and stocking up on fresh water and batteries and wondering whether to cancel plans for what is usually one of the last summer weekends before the kids go back to school.

Tennis aficionados also were worried that the storm would interfere with the U.S. Open Tennis Championship, set to start Monday in Queens.

And as if there wasn’t enough anxiety already for thousands of college freshmen expected to move into their dorms Sunday at New York University, Columbia University and Fordham University, now they had to worry about packing … galoshes.

Listen to mom: Pack them!



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-- Geraldine Baum