NEW YORK (PIX11)—New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn't taking any chances with Hurricane Irene, ordering a first-ever mandatory evacuation for all New Yorkers living in low-lying areas of the city.
Bloomberg said residents living in Zone-A SEE ALL NEW YORK CITY HURRICANE EVACUATION ZONES will be asked to leave by 5 p.m. Saturday. The mayor said those who decide to ride it out will not get arrested, but he stresses avoiding the mandatory evacuation may be fatal
"If you don't follow this [order], people might die," Bloomberg said of the evacuation during a press conference Friday.
The communities in Zone-A include: Broad Channel and Far Rockaway in Queens, Manhattan Beach and Coney Island in Brooklyn, South and Midland Beach in Staten Island, and Battery City Park in Manhattan.
Over 250,000 residents, estimated to live in those areas, will be affected in Saturday's evacuation. The Mayor also has also requested that people pack a "go" bag with necessary food, water, medications, forms of I-D, and home and car keys.
In addition, Bloomberg encouraged all people who live in those areas to move their cars and go to a friend or family member's home Friday, to stay safe. He also asked that residents in those low-lying areas who are homebound, use Access-a-Ride Friday instead of waiting until Saturday, if they need to move to a safer location. Part of the potential problem he said would be the possibility of massive traffic jams and no MTA serivce.
Bloomberg mandated that all hospitals and senior centers located in those areas be evacuated from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday. Coney Island Hospital began transferring patients from there to other hospitals with available space, and they also postponed all elective and non-emergency procedures. They're also discharging patients healthy enough to go home.
The Mayor cancelled permits for events in low-lying areas on Sunday. Hundreds of outdoor activities like street fairs and block parties were also shut down so that streets could be left open and traffic-free.
The MTA also announced Friday a complete suspension of service this weekend, starting on Saturday at noon. The transit agency said it will begin an incremental suspension of its subway, bus, and rail Long Island Rail Road, and Metro-North Railroad service beginning approximately eight hours prior to sustained 39 mph winds reaching the area. Subway and bus lines will begin shutting down after 12 noon.
For more information on whether you live in a low-lying area and may need to evacuate your home, go to www.nyc.gov or call 3-11.