Hurricane Irene is fast approaching the East Coast, scheduled to make landfall over the coast of North Carolina tonight before slamming New York City sometime Saturday night. Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered the first-ever evacuation of New York City today, calling on residents of low-lying areas to move to higher ground by 5 p.m. tomorrow.
So far the evacuation only applies to the 270,0000 residents in “Zone A” — which includes parts of Lower Manhattan, Red Hook, Williamsburg, Green Point — and the Rockaways. Here’s a map and list of neighborhoods.
Unfortunately, urban residents in the Northeast are the least likely people in America to be prepared for a hurricane, according to CNN poll released today. Since most of you don’t know what you’re doing, we’ve compiled a guide to help get you through the storm.
- Take it seriously. The problem with a storm like Irene is that it moves slowly, so people tend to wait until the last minute to get out, or assume they can just “weather the storm.” You can’t, so don’t try. If the city (or state) tells you to leave, get out.
- If you live in Zone A, figure out where you are going and get there by tomorrow. Keep in mind that the MTA shuts down tomorrow at noon, and you probably don’t want to be on the last train out. The city said today that NYPD will start patrolling Zone A at 5 p.m. tomorrow to remind people to leave.
- If you have to evacuate, pack a “Go Bag” with the essentials, including copies of your important documents, extra keys, cash, bottled water and energy bars, a flashlight, a radio, a first-aid kit, and medication. Here’s a checklist from the Red Cross.
- High-rises are a major concern in this storm. If you live in a high-rise (even outside of the evacuation zones), prepare to move down to the 10th floor or below.
- Everyone should make an emergency supply kit that includes three-day supplies of water and food, a battery-powered radio, flashlight and batteries, a first-aid kit, a whistle, a dust mask, and all the chargers you need. Here’s the full list from FEMA.
- Bring in ANY objects from outside. Not only will you probably lose them forever, you don’t want to be the one who takes out a first responder with your lawn chair.
- Stay informed. Check the National Hurricane centre for weather updates and the New York City Office of Emergency Management for updates on evacuation plans and shutdowns. Business Insider will also be liveblogging Irene here.