So says Mayor Mike:
New York officials preparing for Hurricane Irene this weekend will decide tomorrow whether to call for the evacuation of low-lying areas in downtown Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
The decision would be based on the strength, path and speed of the storm, Bloomberg told reporters today at a news conference in a flood-prone section of Queens. The city would offer “an enormous shelter system” for those without a place to stay on higher ground, he said.
“We don’t have enough information yet to make that call,” Bloomberg said. “The timing is a bit up in the air, as it is with all these things. Sometime on Friday, late in the day. How many depends on how severe we think the storm is going to be.”
Late Friday seems a bit late to me, as the weather will likely start going downhill overnight Saturday, given the size of the storm. So you’re really giving people just over 24 hours to act. But of course they’ll also have better information about the storm’s track by late Friday; I understand that. It’s a very tough call. Presumably/hopefully the disaster planners know what they’re doing, and are giving themselves enough time. (They do need to factor in the likelihood that an evacuation order for low-lying areas will also spur some folks not in low-lying areas to voluntarily, independently decide to get out, creating more traffic jams than in the ideal scenario. Hopefully they’re factoring that in.)
The article adds: “The mayor has the power to issue an executive order forcing evacuation, which Bloomberg said he would use only in the ‘worst circumstances.'”
Anyway, in light of this timing decision, I guess Wall Street probably will not close tomorrow after all.
I, personally, if I lived in or near NYC, would probably make a decision tonight about whether I should evacuate — based on where I live and what type of structure, etc. — and either leave late tonight or first thing Friday, or not at all. But that’s just me.
Meanwhile, similar evacuation calls are going to be needed all up and down the mid-Atlantic coast. Lots of big decisions in the next 24-30 hours.