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Evacuations have begun at senior centers in Battery Park City as New York prepared to meet Hurricane Irene, which began storming up the East Coast Friday.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered senior centers and hospitals in areas most at risk for flooding from the storm surve to begin evacuating Friday morning. The Hall Mark of Battery Park City senior center began evacuation this morning. Bloomberg said he would decide whether residents would be required to evacuate the city’s most vulnerable areas Saturday morning.
In the meantime, a Hurricane Watch has been issued for New York City by the National Weather Service and Hurricane Warnings have been issued for much of the East Coast from North Carolina up to New Jersey.
Hurricane Irene was downgraded from a Category 3 to a Category 2 storm early Friday morning with sustained winds of 110 as it inches closer to the North Carolina coastline. The storm is still on track for a direct hit to the New York area on Sunday afternoon, bringing with it torrential rain, massive storm surges, devastating winds and the potential for severe flooding.
Forecasters are predicting that Irene may still be a Category 1 storm by the time it gets to the New York metro area, which could lead to the most damaging hurricane for the Northeast in over 50 years, according to AccuWeather.com.
“What we have to do is assume the worst, prepare for that, and hope for the best,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a press conference at City Hall Thursday evening.