Update: Cuomo declares state of emergency in wake of Irene

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By Ivan Pereira
Thursday, August 25, 2011 5:08 PM

It may be too early to tell if Queens is in Hurricane Irene’s path of destruction, but the governor and mayor said they are not taking any chances and urged residents in affected zones to do the same.

Andrew Cuomo officially declared a state of emergency Thursday afternoon in preparation for the storm which has already unleashed serious damage in the Caribbean and is expected to pound the Carolina coast with heavy rain and strong winds later in the day.

A state of emergency allows the state to “use state resources to assist local governments more effectively and quickly, allows the state to activate the national Emergency Management Assistance Compact to bring in resources from out of the state, and enables New York to access key federal resources earlier in anticipation of an emergency,” according to the governor.

“We are communicating with our federal and local partners to track the storm and to plan a coordinated response, and we will deploy resources as needed to the areas expected to be hit the hardest. I urge New Yorkers to personally prepare for hurricane conditions and to cooperate with emergency officials if needed,” he said in a statement.

Michael Bloomberg met with elected officials and community leaders in Laurelton Thursday morning to discuss the city’s preparation for the storm. He reassured everyone that the city’s various agencies, including the Office of Emergency Management and the Department of Environmental Protection, are ready for any scenario.

“It all depends on what happens with the storm. The timing is up in the air,” he said.

DEP crews began cleaning out the catch basins in low-lying southeast Queens, which is prone to flooding, to make sure they can handle the storm water when Irene makes landfall in the New York area sometime Sunday. In addition to the storm sewer cleaning, the mayor said that 15 hurricane evacuation centers will be on standby in Queens to handle any emergency.

Bloomberg noted that he has the power to order a mandatory evacuation for the Rockaways but only in a worse case scenario.

“We don’t have enough information to make that call,” he said.

A flood plan has also been created for Flushing Meadows Corona Park and the US Open, which is slated to begin Monday, according to the mayor. Some police stations will be provided with boats as well, he said.

Con Edison is reminding customers to be on high alert if the storm hits the city and for homeowners to have flashlights, batteries, radios and other supplies. Customers are urged to call 1-800-752-6633, if possible, to report power outages.

City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) also announced that his office at 166-08 24th Rd. will be open Sunday at 10 a.m. for anyone needing help with the pending storm.

“As this storm approaches, we will have all hands on deck,” Halloran said in a statement. “My office is here to help you.”

Bloomberg told New Yorkers the best thing they can do is to have their own hurricane plan and if they are concerned about flooding to go to a friend or relative’s house in a safer area.

“By the time the storm gets to us, it might not be a powerful storm… but anything can happen,” he said.

Log onto http://www.nyc.gov/html/oem/html/ready/hurricane_guide.shtml for more information about the city’s hurricane preparation and a location of evacuation centers.

This entry was posted on Thursday, August 25th, 2011 at 5:14 pm and is filed under Breaking News, TimesLedger, Web Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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