NYC Begins Evacuations

As Hurricane Irene barrels toward the East Coast, New York City has ordered evacuations of the Rockaways and other threatened areas — the first time the city has required mandatory evacuation flood zones in its history. (For an interactive map of the areas, go here.) Residents will have to leave by 5 p.m. Saturday, and fares and tolls for the evacuees have been waived. Governor Andrew Cuomo also announced Friday that New York City's mass-transit systems will close on Saturday beginning at noon. The transit system is unable to ensure the safety of its vehicles when wind speeds exceed 39 miles per hour, and the city needs eight hours to shut mass transit down. The service outage could last into Monday, depending on the severity of the storm. There hasn't been a blackout in New York City since 2003, but state officials are coordinating emergency services in the event of power outages in the region. Read preparation plans here.