Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s evacuation plans were put in place for low-lying areas of New York City. The evacuation areas were called “Zone A” and included Coney Island in Brooklyn, parts of the Raceways in Queens, the Staten Island coast and Battery Park City in Lower Manhattan.
A total of 370,000 New York City residents evacuated. Many evacuees went to stay with friends or family or hotels outside the danger zone. The city also provided hurricane shelters throughout the five boroughs.
Mass transit, including subways and buses, were shut down throughout the city for more than 24 hours.
“We hope for the best, but we prepare for the worst," said during one of his press conferences.
Both New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie declared states of emergency as Irene as it battered the Bahamas and continued moving toward the United States. President Obama said Irene had the makings of an "historic hurricane."
Tropical storm Irene formed on the coast of Bahamas and proceeded towards the United States. Irene accumulated power as it got closer to the United States. At one point, Irene had become a Category 3 hurricane. Irene was massive. The diameter of the storm according to NASA satellites was almost one-third the length of the whole U.S. Atlantic coast line measuring up to 700 miles wide.
As a resident of “Zone A,” I also prepared for the worst. My parents and I packed up and took a taxi to a hotel in “Zone B” a less vulnerable part of the city. My friend Olivia, 14 years old, was at the same hotel as me. Olivia was with her parents and her little dog named Gracie. I did not know what to expect from this weather event, but, It was good to spend time with friends and family during the storm.
Fortunately, by the time Irene hit New York City, it was no longer a catastrophic storm and it was downgraded to a tropical storm.
The storm surge from the Hudson River, however, flooded parts of Manhattan, including Zones A and B. A storm surge is the rise of water that occurs as the result of a storm. Flooding in the city was about a foot deep.
The Holland Tunnel, a highway tunnel under the Hudson River connecting the island of Manhattan with New Jersey, was closed due to flooding. Irene caused water and wind damage in New York and hundreds of thousands of people were without power. Furthermore, the storm killed at least 15 people as it swept up the East Coast over the weekend.
Photo: A bike on the streets of New York is partially submerged by flood waters caused by Hurricane Irene. (Courtesy Cecilia Gault)