By Ria Novosti
As hurricane Irene approached the U.S. coast, the state of emergency was declared for New York, and mandatory evacuation ordered for the first time ever.
Irene, a category two hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, is expected to make landfall on Saturday morning in the state of North Carolina and reach New York in late on Saturday or early on Sunday.
The first time ever in New York history, the city mayor’s office ordered over 250,000 residents to evacuate from low-lying zones and ordered the city’s entire transportation system to be shut down on Saturday afternoon.
“We’ve never done a mandatory evacuation before and we wouldn’t be doing it now if we didn’t think this storm had the potential to be very serious,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters.
President Barack Obama, who earlier said that “all indications point to this being a historic hurricane,” sanctioned the use of federal funds in preparations for Irene in New York, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said on its website.
The Department of Homeland Security and FEMA were authorized to coordinate all disaster relief efforts and to provide assistance for required emergency measures.
“FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding,” the agency said on its website.
New York Times estimates possible damage from a category two hurricane in the New York City to range from $35 billion to $93 billion, depending on the wind speed and the distance from Manhattan.
Washington Mayor Vincent Gray also informed in his Twitter account that he had declared a state of emergency.
“I’ve declared a State of Emergency in the District due to the impending impact of Hurricane Irene,” he said.
He earlier said the city may stop its above-ground metro lines.