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New York Citizens Anxious about Hurricane Irene

Posted by on Monday, August 29, 2011, 6:37
This news item was posted in World News category and has 0 Comments so far .

IRENEHurricane Irene bore down on a dark and quiet, bringing winds and rapidly rising seawater that threatened parts of the city. The rumble of the subway system was silenced for the first time in years, the city all but shut down for the strongest tropical lashing since the 1980s.

Irene weakened after landfall over the North Carolina coast Saturday, but it was still a massive storm with sustained winds of up to 80 mph as it approached Manhattan. Even worse, Irene’s fury could coincide with a tide that’s higher than normal. Water levels were expected to rise as much as 8 feet.

Forecasters said there was a chance a storm surge on the fringes of Lower Manhattan could send seawater streaming into the maze of underground vaults that hold the city’s cables and pipes, knocking out power to thousands and crippling the nation’s financial capital. Officials’ feared water lapping at Wall Street, ground zero and the luxury high-rise apartments of Battery Park City. A tornado warning was briefly issued for the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens early Sunday.

Battery Park City in lower Manhattan was virtually deserted as rain and gusty winds pummeled streets and whipped trees. Officials were bracing for a storm surge of several feet that could flood or submerge the Promenade along the Hudson River.

In Times Square, shops boarded up windows and sandbags were stacked outside of stores. Construction at the World Trade Center site came to a standstill.

But taxi cabs were open for business as some residents donned rain gear and headed outside to check the weather or to head home after hotel shifts.

“I have to work. I would lose too much money,” said cabbie Dwane Imame, who said he worked through the night. “There have been many people, I have been surprised. They are crazy to be out in this weather.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered more than 370,000 people out of low-lying areas, mostly in lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. Only 8,700 people checked-in to shelters and an untold number defied the order.

“Oh, forget Bloomberg. We ain’t going anywhere,” 60-year-old Evelyn Burrus said at a large public housing complex in Brooklyn. “Go to some shelter with a bunch of strangers and bedbugs? No way.”

Late Saturday, Bloomberg said it was no longer safe to be outside.

“The time for evacuation is over. Everyone should now go inside and stay inside,” he said.

Many New Yorkers took the evacuation in stride. Some planned hurricane parties.

“We already have the wine and beer, and now we’re getting the vodka,” said Martin Murphy, a video artist who was shopping at a liquor store near Central Park with his girlfriend.

“If it lasts, we have dozens of movies ready, and we’ll play charades and we’re going to make cards that say, ‘We survived Irene,'” he said.

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