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New York City Prepares for Hurricane Irene

Fragile Oasis, flickr

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As Hurricane Irene approaches the East Coast, New York City is hunkering down.

New York City Mayor Bloomberg said that he expected to make a decision by late Friday whether residents in the city's so-called "Zone-A" would need to evacuate ahead of the storm that's now expected to hit the city Sunday.

That zone includes neighborhoods along the coast, such as Battery Park City in lower Manhattan, Coney Island in Brooklyn and Far Rockaway in Queens.

Click here to see a map of hurricane evacuation areas.

Meanwhile, officials say they're preparing for the first total shutdown of the city's subway system in recent memory.  Mayor Bloomberg said officials expect to shut down the city's entire transit system at some point Saturday afternoon ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Irene.  He said service likely won't be available again until sometime Monday or perhaps later.

MTA Chairman Jay Walder said that the system can't be safely operated with sustained winds of 39 mph or more.  He said 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.