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City Begins Storm Preps Ahead Of Irene's Arrival

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TWC News: City Begins Storm Preps Ahead Of Irene's Arrival
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The city is urging residents not to panic but to take basic precautions in case Hurricane Irene brings its worst to the city.

The National Weather Service predicts the city could be hit with a strong tropical storm, or at worst a Category 1 hurricane, midday Saturday into Sunday. Winds could reach up to 72 mph.

The Office of Emergency Management says low-lying areas like the southern tip of Manhattan, Red Hook and Coney Island in Brooklyn, the Rockaways in Queens and parts of Staten Island could be flooded. For more information on the coastal evacuation zone, visit nyc.gov/oem.

The agency also suggests having enough supplies on hand, like food and water and a handheld radio.

"It's close enough at this point that we need to take preparatory steps," said Deputy Mayor of Operations Cas Holloway. "No matter what happens, there is likely to be some significant impact from this storm in terms of rains and winds."

Emergency operations centers in the city and in Albany are tracking and preparing for the storm.

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, OEM Commissioner Joseph Bruno said the city will be ready to open shelters if the conditions warrant.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state is working with the federal government to make plans for responding to any emergencies caused by the storm.

This coordinated planning is a dramatic difference from the city's delayed response to December's blizzard. It left the city paralyzed with emergency services and roads frozen for hours, and in some cases, days. Mayor Michael Bloomberg admitted then that mistakes were made.

City officials are keeping the public informed though constant communication, but it is also up to all individuals to pay attention to the news so they can take the appropriate steps too.

Meanwhile, Irene is expected to gain strength as it nears the nation's coastline.

The storm is moving northwest toward the U.S. Coast at a speed of 12 mph and is expected to hit the Carolinas by Friday.

The federal government is urging residents to listen to their local officials and follow their instructions, if they have to evacuate.

Residents could see heavy rains, high winds, downed trees and riptides, depending on the track of the storm.

Irene has already cut a destructive path through the Caribbean.

It whipped Turks and Caicos with winds of 100 mph and left more than a million people without power in Puerto Rico.

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