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NY, NJ, CT Brace for Irene

Nasa's Marshall Space Flight Center, flickr


The latest on Hurricane Irene in NY, NJ and CT.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ordered mandatory evacuations for residents in low-lying coastal areas ahead of Hurricane Irene.

The low-lying areas are scattered across the city and are home to about 270,000 residents. They include parts of Battery Park City, Coney Island and the Rockaways. Bloomberg calls the mandatory evacuations a first. Emergency shelters are opening Friday afternoon. Bloomberg says the evacuation deadline is 5 p.m. Saturday.

Officials also ordered an unprecedented shutdown of the city's mass transit system for Saturday. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has never before halted its entire system in advance of a storm, though the system was seriously hobbled by an August 2007 rainstorm. The last planned shutdown of the entire transit system was during a 2005 strike.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says major bridges and the state Thruway will close if Hurricane Irene brings winds over 60 mph.  Cuomo lists more than a half-dozen bridges in New York City and the lower Hudson Valley that would close to all traffic with sustained winds at that speed, including the George Washington and Tappan Zee that carry traffic to and from the city.  The Thruway Authority says road closures could include the highway between New York City and Albany. 

National Guard units will deploy up to 900 personnel and more than 100 vehicles to help civilian authorities. Troops have begun to reporting.  A hurricane watch is in effect for New York City and Long Island for Sunday, with storm conditions possible Saturday night.

New Jersey Transit trains will stop running Saturday because of Hurricane Irene.  New Jersey Transit spokeswoman Penny Bassett Hackett says the transit agency will shut down commuter rail service at noon Saturday. Trains will not start new runs after then, but will continue the routes that are already in progress.  The Hudson-Bergen, Newark and River Line light rail trains are to stop at 6 p.m. Saturday.  The Access Link system that serves people with disabilities is halting service after 6 p.m. Sunday.  NJ Transit says regular bus service shutdowns may be coming but are not scheduled yet. No time was set for resumption of service.

Connecticut's governor has asked President Barack Obama to declare a pre-landfall emergency in Connecticut as the state braces for Hurricane Irene.  The declaration requested Friday afternoon would make Connecticut eligible for federal funding and other assistance before the storm arrives.  The storm threatens to make a direct hit on the Connecticut shoreline Sunday with drenching rains, hurricane-force winds and a storm surge forecast to reach five feet.

More details on the storm:


   _ Forecasters predict Irene to make landfall Sunday as a Category 1 storm between New Jersey and Cape Cod.

   _ The National Weather Service has issued a hurricane watch and a flood watch for Long Island, New York City and Rockland, Westchester and Putnam counties.

   _ New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ordered mandatory evacuations for residents in low-lying coastal areas that are home to 270,000.

   _ The governor declared a state of emergency and the state's Office of Emergency Management has increased staffing in its underground bunker.

   _ The governor says New York City's public transit will halt around noon Saturday because of the hurricane.


   _ Forecasters predicted storm would pass over, or more likely, near New Jersey by midday Sunday.

   _ Hurricane warning in effect for coastal and southern counties.

   _ Mandatory evacuations ordered for nearly 1 million visitors and residents of Cape May County, coastal Atlantic County and Long Beach Island.

   _ Governor declared emergency for the state.

   _ New Jersey Transit trains to shut down Saturday.

   _ Last hurricane to directly hit the state was remnants of Hurricane Floyd, which caused major flooding inland in 1999.

   _ Atlantic City casinos shutting down for only the third time since gambling was legalized 33 years ago.


   _ Forecasters predict Irene to make landfall on Sunday somewhere between New Jersey and Cape Cod.

   _ Hurricane warnings have not been issued.

   _ Mandatory evacuations have not been ordered.

   _ Last hurricane to hit was Bob in 1991.