Washington/New York: As millions of Americans along the US east coast
braced for what President Barack Obama warned could be a
"hurricane of historic proportions" the nation's most populous
city New York issued its first mandatory evacuation order.
About 250,000 people are affected by the evacuation order covering
low-lying areas of all five of the city's boroughs, including
Queens, home to the largest concentration of Indian Americans in
the US with a population of over 130,000.
Authorities warned of widespread and prolonged power outages,
flash flooding and storm surges that could flood low-lying
communities and possibly inundate subway systems as hurricane
Irene churned toward an anticipated 7 a.m. landfall between
Beaufort and Atlantic Beach, North Carolina.
The New York Metropolitan Transit Authority plans to shut down its
system at noon Saturday. JFK International Airport will be closed
to incoming international flights staring at noon Saturday.
New Jersey Transit also will shut down at noon, and the transit
system in Philadelphia will halt service at 12:30 a.m. Boston said
it intends to keep its system operating. The Garden State Parkway
in New Jersey was closing 98 miles of southbound lanes Friday
Hurricane warnings were in effect from Little River Inlet, North
Carolina, to Nantucket, Massachusetts, according to CNN.
An ocean surge of up to 11 feet is possible in coastal North
Carolina, tearing away beaches and probably damaging homes,
businesses and other structures before sliding up the East Coast
to New England, Hurricane Centre Director Bill Read said.
Storm surges of 4 feet to 8 feet are possible in the Virginia
Tidewater region, with 3- to 6-foot surges farther north along the
New Jersey shore, Read said.
Amtrak, Greyhound and major US airlines began cancelling hundreds
of flights in the Washington area, New York metro area and Boston.
(Arun Kumar can
be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)