Rallying cry for hurricane Irene preparations: not Katrina, not again
Federal and state emergency managers are acting decisively in an attempt to avoid the mistakes of hurricane Katrina in 2005. The result has impacted millions of lives.
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This has resulted in traffic snarls, thousands of airline and event cancellations, and mandatory evacuations affecting millions. But, depending on the aftermath of the storm, that could be part of a new emergency-response normal – at least so long as the sting of Katrina remains.Skip to next paragraph
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By Friday morning, hurricane warnings, meaning hurricane conditions could arrive withing 36 hours, extended from the Carolinas to Sandy Hook, N.J. A hurricane watch, meaning hurricane conditions could arrive within 48 hours, were issued north of Sandy Hook up to the Merrimack River in New England, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Not since hurricane Isabel in 2004 has the Atlantic Coast, especially New England, prepared for such a powerful storm.
- Govs. Andrew Cuomo (D) of New York and Chris Christie (R) of New Jersey declared states of emergency on Thursday. Subway, commuter rail, and buses will be shut down on Saturday across the region.
- New York City ordered the first mandatory evacuation in the city’s history, including plans to shut down the city’s subway and transit system. The evacuation order now covers mainly shore areas, affecting some 250,000 residents. If a major hurricane (Category 3 or 4) makes landfall just south of New York City, significant low-lying areas in lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island could be evacuated, according to the New York City map of hurricane evacuation zones. “A major hurricane is unlikely in New York City, but not impossible,” the map notes.
- In response to another evacuation order, Atlantic City is shutting down its casinos for only the third time since voters legalized gambling in 1976. More than 1 million residents and tourists, many on buses, joined a surge of traffic in evacuation zones moving away from the coast. The slots and gaming tables must shut down by 8 p.m. on Friday.
- Sports, theater, church, and concert events dropped off the calendar as the storm approached. The New York Mets called off baseball games Saturday and Sunday, and the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies rescheduled Sunday home games. But the US Open tennis tournament is still set to open in New York on Monday.
- In Washington, organizers postponed the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, set for Sunday to coincide with the 48th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. That speech, delivered just across the Mall at the Lincoln Memorial, inspired the Memorial’s towering “Stone of Hope” sculpture: “With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.” Some tens of thousands of visitors had been expected in Washington for the event.