The East coast of the United States is braced for the impact of category 2 Hurricane Irene which is expected to make landfall on 27th August 2011. A mandatory evacuation notice has been issued to all residents in the following areas: Coney Island, Manhattan Beach, Far Rockaway, Beach Channel, South Beach, Midland Beach, and Battery Park City. These low-lying areas must be vacated by 5pm on Saturday 27th August 2011. All permits for street events have been revoked by executive order of the mayor.
The latest National Weather Service forecasts predict that the hurricane will become a category 1 storm by the time it reaches New York.
JFK airport and other transport systems in New York will close at noon on Saturday ahead of the storm, which is expected to bring gusts of up to 105 knots. Hospitals in low-lying areas, such as Coney Island hospital, began transferring patients to other hospitals and cancelling elective surgery on Thursday.
New Jersey American Water has advised water customers to fill bathtubs and other containers to provide drinking water in the likely event of shortages during the storm and to conserve water as far as possible. In case of evacuation, users are asked to close the main water shut off valve in their home.
Likewise AmeriGas has advised those using propane to power barbecues and generators during the storm to secure their bottles and tanks and to check for damage or leaks after the storm has passed. In the case of a leak, users should extinguish any flames, sparks or power sources near to the gas before evacuating, switching off the main gas tank supply and calling the retailer or emergency services.
The Information Systems Audit and Control Association has advised computer users to unplug computers to protect from power surges and consider wrapping equipment in plastic. For employers, ISACA advises administrators to consider how employee remote access via smartphones or home PCs might affect security of information.
New York’s Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has broadcast a number of updates on the situation, reiterating his faith the resiliance of New Yorkers:
“Whenever the City has faced a difficult, tough situation, New Yorkers have always shown courage, compassion, presence of mind, and have been innovative in dealing with whatever is thrown at them. And I have confidence that they will do that again.
“…New Yorkers should prepare themselves by stocking up on some basic supplies and making what’s called a ‘Go Bag,’ a bag that you could take with you at a moment’s notice if you have to leave home, and it should include things like drinking water, a first-aid kit, a flashlight, any important medications that you take, essential documents, such as passports or other forms of ID, and an extra set of car keys and house keys…”
New Yorkers are also advised to avoid trees in gardens or parks because high winds will increase the likelihood of branches or whole trees falling.
AIR Worldwide, a risk modelling firm, has estimated that the cost to insurance companies of the storm’s impact on the Caribbean will be between US $500 million and US $1.1 billion. AIR expects the Bahamas will account for more than 60% of those insured losses.