New York City today prepares to go into an unprecedented lockdown as Hurricane Irene roars its way northwards up the East Coast.
Although Irene’s strength waned last night and was downgraded to a category 1 hurricane, experts warned that it could still wreak havoc when it hits New York because of storm surges pushing seawater ashore and heavy rainfall causing flooding. Public transport in the city will be completely shut down at midday, with the subway, buses and MTA trains all ceasing operations. The five main airports in New York will also be closed to arriving passenger flights from noon affecting hundreds of thousands of peoples’ journeys. NFL officials have also been forced to reschedule the popular New York Giants’ pre-season game against the Jets for Monday.
More than 2 million people across the Eastern Seaboard have been told to move to safer places,with hurricane warnings from North Carolina in the South all the way to Massachusetts in the North. It is the first hurricane warning issued for New York City in more than two decades.
President Barack Obama addressed the nation yesterday, urging Americans to ‘take the storm seriously’ and warning it is set to be ‘a historic hurricane’.
‘You need to listen to your state and local officials,’ he said. ‘If you’re in the way of this hurricane you should be preparing now. If you’re instructed to evacuate please do so.’