NEW YORK (AP) — New York City officials say they’re preparing for the total shutdown of the nation’s largest mass transit system.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg says officials expect to shut down the city’s entire transit system at some point Saturday afternoon ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Irene, which is now forecasted to strike eastern Queens. He says service likely won’t be available again until sometime Monday or perhaps later.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Jay Walder says that the system can’t be safely operated with sustained winds of 39 mph or more. He says it will take at least eight hours to move all MTA equipment from low-lying storage areas and secure trains in protected areas, including in the system’s underground tunnels.
Bloomberg is urging residents of the city’s low-lying areas to begin evacuating tomorrow. He’ll decide whether to issue a formal evacuation order by 8 a.m.
Link: The Latest Hurricane Irene Maps, Forecasts
The Long Island Rail Road is reducing service in advance of Hurricane Irene touching down on Sunday.
The utility canceled some Friday trains to the East End and train equipment was being moved out of low-lying areas. All riders are being asked to take the storm into account when making plans. MTA officials say the rail road could be shut down entirely if the island is hit hard.
Suffolk County officials announced a voluntary evacuation of beach towns on western Fire Island on Thursday. They say that could become mandatory on Friday. Officials are asking ferry companies not to bring anyone to the island who doesn’t own a home there.
Campers at county parks are being asked to take a hike.
In Nassau County, residents on the Barrier Island on the south shore were told to prepare for evacuations unless the storm changes its track.
Emergency shelters are being set up around the island and residents are urged to pack kits with emergency supplies.
The Long Island Rail Road is reducing service in advance of the hurricane and officials say a total shutdown is possible.
Electric companies say they’re on high alert as Hurricane Irene heads our way.
Con Edison says extensive outages are possible as strong winds topple trees and power lines. Residents should stock up on batteries, flashlights and battery-operated radios.
Residents are urged not to touch any downed electrical wires, which can be dangerous. Other tips: if the power goes out, turn off lights and appliances to prevent an overload once it’s restored. If a utility line falls on your car while you’re in it, stay there and call for help.
Spokesman Chris Olert says officials are also keeping an eye on the steam system in Manhattan.
The Long Island Power Authority says it has hired 900 extra workers to deal with the storm.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ordered nursing, senior homes and hospitals in Zone A low-lying areas to evacuate beginning Friday. He asked these facilities and hospitals to coordinate evacuation efforts with health officials.
The mayor at a press conference Thursday said Hurricane Irene appears to be heading toward eastern Queens, New York.
Bloomberg says shelters will open for residents at 4 p.m. Friday. He also announced that the emergency command center had been activated.
Link: City-by-City Forecasts
The mayor also revoked all permits for outdoor events on Sunday. Permits for Saturday events in the Zone A areas must end by 2 p.m.
Zone A neighborhoods include coastal areas such as Battery Park City in lower Manhattan, Coney Island in Brooklyn and Far Rockaway in Queens.
City residents can look up their zone at www.nyc.gov.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy and other elected officials are asking for voluntary evacuations of beach communities on western Fire Island.
They’re monitoring the weather to determine whether to call for a mandatory evacuation early Friday.
People can only get to and from the barrier beach communities by ferry.