As New York City prepares for Hurricane Irene to reach the five boroughs, most of the city’s agencies have shut down service. Here’s what you need to know.
1. The Forecast: According to Brian Ceimnecki, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, the winds will start to pick up in New York City by around 9 p.m. Then, between approximately 10 p.m. and 12 a.m, they will increase to the “steady, stronger” winds that can bring down trees and power lines. Mr. Ceimnecki said that peak winds were expected between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. (The agency has predicted wind speeds of 55 to 75 miles per hour in the city on Sunday, with gusts of up to 80 m.p.h.)
2. The Mayor’s Office: Speaking on Saturday afternoon, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg urged residents to stay indoors and evacuate the low-lying areas of the city. For updates from the city, follow @NYCMayorsOffice and @NotifyNYC on Twitter or the NYC Office of Emergency Management Facebook page. Mr. Bloomberg also advised that New Yorkers call 311 to reach the city, saving 911 for emergencies only. And he said the 311 service was reachable by text message at 311692 (311NYC). (In periods of poor cellphone service, text messages can sometimes go through when voice calls cannot.)
3. Evacuations: A mandatory evacuation order is now in effect for New Yorkers in low-lying Zone “A” coastal areas across all five boroughs. Check this interactive map for zoning information, which includes evacuation sites. The city has also prepared an Excel spreadsheet with shelter information.
4. Mass Transit: It’s been shut down. The M.T.A.’s subways and buses stopped running at noon, as did PATH trains and commuter railroads connecting Manhattan to New Jersey, Long Island, Westchester County and Connecticut. New Jersey Transit’s bus, light rail and paratransit rides, for people with disabilities, were scheduled to stop at 6 p.m. Saturday. The Staten Island Ferry was scheduled to end service at 10 p.m. Saturday, sooner if sustained winds stayed above 46 miles per hour.
The state announced that to aid in evacuations, a variety of fares and tolls would be suspended in the city, including all city buses. Tolls are suspended at the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, the Throgs Neck Bridge, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge and the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge. Fares will be suspended for subway and rail passengers at stations in the mandatory evacuation area.
5. Airports: As of 10 p.m. Saturday, four airports in the region will shut down completely: Kennedy International Airport, La Guardia Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport, as well as Stewart International Airport near Newburgh, N.Y. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has also said that Teterboro Airport in New Jersey would be shut down on Sunday.
6. Bridges: Winds greater than 50 m.p.h. will prompt closings of the East River bridges: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Williamsburg and Ed Koch Queensboro. Winds over 60 m.p.h. will prompt closings of the George Washington, Verrazano-Narrows, Robert F. Kennedy (formerly Triborough), Bronx-Whitestone, Throgs Neck and Henry Hudson Bridges.
7. Amtrak: There will be service reductions on Saturday and no service on Sunday. (Passengers who have paid for travel on canceled trains can contact Amtrak to receive refunds without fee or penalty or can rebook for future travel.)
8. Roads: Private cars will be allowed on New York City streets. Taxis will accept shared rides and will be priced on a zone system: $10 for trip within one zone; $5 more for each additional zone; other boroughs are each one zone.
9. Personal Safety: Residents riding out the storm should not tape windows; it does more harm than good, federal officials say. Removing window air-conditioning units can be more dangerous than leaving them in place, Mayor Bloomberg says. The safer option: take shelter in interior rooms.
10. Courts: Jurors in New York City, Nassau and Suffolk Counties will not have to report on Monday. (Jurors are told to check with the local jury commissioner’s office on Monday night for further instructions.) New York City courts will be open for arraignment on Saturday until 6 p.m. (except Staten Island, which will close at its usual Saturday closure time of 1 p.m.) On Saturday, the decision will be made whether to close on Sunday, which, if the storm continues to track as predicted, was considered likely. Courts in Nassau and Suffolk Counties will be closed on Sunday.