For the first time in history all NYC public transportation, all Airports, Bridges and tunnels will stop running at Noon on Saturday Aug 27, 2011, including Amtrak, NJ Transit, Path Trains, JFK, La Guardia & Newark airports, Metro North Railroad, Long Island Railroad, all New York City, and New Jersey Bridges and Tunnels. Hurricane Irene is threatening the worst destruction ever seen in New York City. Officials are warning the worst and hoping for the best. City officials said it takes 8 hours to shut down the entire system as explanation for the early cut-off at noon on Saturday. Current forecasts expect Hurricane Irene to reach NYC by 8pm Saturday. According to ABCnews, there are 5,912 Skyscrapers in NYC, most of which have never faced a category 1 Hurricane. Lower Manhattan and some Subway tunnels are expected to flood.
The City that never sleeps will finally get a rest.
For the first time in history, NYC streets, subways, railways, restaurants, tourist attractions, entertainment, Broadway Theatres and Times Square will be empty. All in an attempt to keep everyone safe from the treachery of Hurricane Irene. We are expected to get at least 12 inches of rain that we cannot accommodate, along with category 1 hurricane winds (minimum 74 mph), 6-12 feet ocean swells and waves, downed trees, airborne debris and shrapnel. Regardless of what the reality turns out to be, we will have significant flooding, flood zones will flood, rivers will bank and we can expect many areas that rarely flood to be flooded. Some forecasts are predicting many low-lying areas, that have never been flooded, to swell with water. The try-state area (NY, NJ & CT) have received about 10" of rain this August (2011); we normally get 4" in August, so the earth is saturated, the rivers are full and the ground around trees are wet and pliable. Introduce hurricane force wind speeds (above 73 miles per hour) and only disaster will ensue.
A Region holds it's breath.
Everyone has been warned to stay off the streets, not just in NYC, but all across the try state area. Barrier Islands and shore lines have been evacuated, along with hospitals and senior centers in those areas. Thousands of sheets of plywood have found their way over windows and doors. Highways across the region were closed by Saturday morning, some open only one way, letting folks get out of evacuation zones, with no option to return. Every authority, Governors, mayors, county chiefs, legislators, news anchors and reporters, OEM commissioners (Office of Emergency Management), borough presidents and the red cross have warned the worst, have been working to be prepared for at least a week and have battened down everything at risk. Subway and bus yards in high risk zones have been cleared. Commercial Aircraft are being secured in hangers or flown out of the area, while private planes are being covered & tethered to ground with steel cables.
There is a lot of data available from previous hurricanes to assist emergency planning on every level. However, NYC has never faced such a direct hit. Many outcomes can only be guessed, certainly, many formulas and models are being examined to determine what might happen given NYC's unique skyline. Emergency personal will be on alert all across NYC to monitor what happens so that the OEM can respond accordingly by Sunday afternoon when the worst is expected to be over. NYC has the largest and best equipped municipal workforce in the world, including police, fire, EMS, sanitation, transportation, information services, engineers and hospitals, all of which are in a state of preparedness for the worst. We expect that by Monday morning the city will be wide awake and ready to remain awake hour after hour, day after day, year after year, unceasingly.