NEW YORK—As Hurricane Sandy continues to track northward along the East Coast in the Atlantic, officials in New York City are gearing up to protect the city from potential flooding and high winds.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo updated the city and state Sunday morning with the announcement that most public transportation, including subways and commuter rails, will begin to shut down at 7 p.m. Oct. 28.
“The transportation system is the lifeblood of the New York City region, and suspending all service is not a step I take lightly,” Cuomo said in a statement. “But keeping New Yorkers safe is the first priority, and the best way to do that is to make sure they are out of harm’s way before gale-force winds can start wreaking havoc on trains and buses.”
Buses will begin shutting down at 9 p.m. Service will be gradually curtailed and totally shut down by 3 a.m. on Monday morning.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), rain is not expected to begin in New York City until after 11 a.m. on Sunday, with heavier rain not expected until Sunday night into Monday. While the storm may not hit New York City directly, the heavy rain will likely bring flooding to low lying areas.
Evacuation of Zone A, which includes Battery Park, Coney Island, and portions of Staten Island, has been ordered and declared mandatory.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who announced the evacuation shortly before noon Sunday, said 65 shelters have been set up in public schools around the city. “If you don’t want to stay in your home and don’t have another safe option, they are available for use. They provide a safe place to sleep, they provide meals, and they have space for pets so bring your pets with you,” Bloomberg said the previous day.
The shelters have backup generators and have increased staffing.
East River Ferry service will be suspended starting on Saturday night and the Staten Island Ferry will run with delays until further notice.
Schools will be canceled on Monday and could be canceled Tuesday and Wednesday.
City offices will not be open on Monday.
Bloomberg said the storm will likely peak Monday night, and city officials expect a storm surge of 6 to 11 feet.
“Tomorrow you’re going to wake up and the weather is going to be a lot worse,” he said.
The mayor ordered all events at the city’s parks to be stopped by 2 p.m. on Sunday and the parks to be closed by 5 p.m.. Bloomberg also told New Yorkers hoping to surf during and before the storm not to do so.
New Yorkers looking for additional information are encouraged to go to nyc.gov or call 311, and only call 911 for emergencies.