In a press conference happening now, Mike Bloomberg is addressing the city regarding Hurricane Irene. He says it’s basically coming right for us — great — and “you have to start your preparations to leave right now.” Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for all of Zone A (check your zone here) and also Zone B in the Rockaways. This, which impacts some quarter of a million people, is the first mandatory evacuation in New York City history. Also notable: the MTA, as reported, will begin to shut down at noon tomorrow. Since it takes hours to restart the system after a shutdown, “there will likely be no mass transit until midday Monday.”
Bloomberg says the strongest winds will start early evening tomorrow, and the projection is that Irene will reach New York as a Category 1 hurricane. Best case scenario, expect “very high winds, a lot of rain, and very high tides,” he says. There’s a forecast of 8 to 12 inches of rain.
Bridges may be closed. The city is also implementing a zone fare plan similar to the one used in the 2005 transit strike for all taxis, to start at 9 p.m. tomorrow.
There will be additional staff on hand in the NYC gov offices to deal with 311 calls and requests for information.
“Stay indoors,” says Bloomberg. “It’s fun being out, but this is dangerous.” Also, stay in on Sunday: It’s a “good time to stay in and sleep late.”
As for questions of looting, Bloomberg says “I think you can expect people to behave.” There will also be plenty of cops on the streets.
Rikers Island will not be evacuated.