New Yorkers awoke this morning to flooded streets, downed trees and sporadic power outages as Tropical Storm Irene made its way through the five boroughs.
The storm, which brought driving rain and winds of up to 65 mph, was downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane as it made landfall over Coney Island at approximately 9 a.m.
With rising flood waters posing the most dangerous threat to low-lying areas of New York City, the tide waters in the city's southern regions appeared to be stabilizing as the storm worked its way north Sunday morning.
While many roadways throughout the five boroughs are impassable due to flooding caused by heavy rain, some affected stretches have reopened including the New Jersey-bound side of the Holland Tunnel and lower level of the George Washington Bridge.
Reduced speed restrictions remain in effect along the RFK, Bronx-Whitestone, and Throgs Neck bridges.
The Verrazano-Narrows, Henry Hudson and Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial bridges as well as both the Queens Midtown and Brooklyn-Battery tunnels are operating under normal conditions.
In the Rockaways, only the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge remains closed.
Tolls on all MTA bridges and tunnels remain suspended at this time.
City and state officials are urging motorists to stay off the roadways, if possible, due to flooding on many highways and parkways leading to the bridges and tunnels.
In a telephone interview with NY1, Governor Andrew Cuomo says the storm's damage and lingering danger “cannot be underestimated."
He also praised New Yorkers who heeded warnings and took the necessary steps to prepare.
Trees have been uprooted and more than 70,000 Con Ed customers, most of them in Queens and Staten Island, are without power as the storm's lingering winds continue to be a factor.
Battery Park, the Rockaways, Coney Island and South Beach are among the areas that could still be threatened by a surge of flood waters that may accompany high tide in those regions at about 11 a.m.
Con Ed officials said they may cut off power to 6,500 customers in Lower Manhattan if flooding reaches dangerous levels. The utility is bringing in hundreds of extra workers to repair any damage caused by the storm.
All told, Irene was expected to bring 70 mph winds and up to 12 inches of rain to the five boroughs.
See a detailed timeline of how the storm is expected to play out as prepared by the NY1 Weather Department.
Irene knocked out power to more than three million homes and caused at least nine deaths as it passed through North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia earlier.
During a morning briefing, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano urged caution in the coming hours as residents living up and down the East Coast begin to dry out.
She also said federal and local officials are now in the response phase, and have already begun assessing damage caused by the storm.
Officials are urging New Yorkers to use common sense by avoiding any downed wires or damaged electrical equipment. Residents who experience a power outage or see damage to their power lines are being directed to call 1-800-75-CONED or visit CONED.com.
Approximately 370,000 residents in coastal areas were asked to evacuate by 5 p.m. Saturday in advance of the storm. Officials said that 9,600 were being lodged in city storm shelters.
In a late-night news conference, Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged residents to remain inside until the storm passes.
The mayor said the city has taken "exhaustive steps" in preparing for the storm and that emergency crews are at the ready.
"We have prepared for this, we worked very hard, we warned the public and now we have to deal with what comes from Mother Nature," Bloomberg said.
The mayor has stressed the seriousness of the storm, telling reporters earlier in the day that those staying behind are foolish and will put others at risk unnecessarily.
"You're putting our first responders' lives in danger, where if you need them to respond later on to something that you could've prevented just isn't smart," Bloomberg said.
Residents of New York City Housing Authority buildings in "Zone A" (listed below) could see
their elevators and boilers shut down as a safety precaution.
Those staying are advised to fill up their sinks and bathtubs with water in case pumps are not working.
A total of 91 emergency shelters are currently open around the five boroughs.
A state of emergency was declared Saturday by the city, state and federal governments.
Residents are reminded to call 911 only in emergencies. For all non-emergencies, call 311.
On Saturday, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority shut down its subway, bus and commuter rail systems in an unprecedented move.
Alternate side of the street parking rules are suspended, and drivers don't have to feed parking meters.
For more information, call 311 or visit nyc.gov.
NYCHA Mandatory Evacuations
Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for residents living in the following "Zone A" New York City Housing Authority properties:
Campos Plaza I
Campos Plaza II
Lavanburg Homes (shelter operated by Henry Street Settlement)
Coney island I (Site 1B)
Coney island I (Site 8)
Coney island I (Sites 4 & 5)
Red hook East
Red hook West
Beach 41st Street-Beach Channel Drive
Ocean Bay Apartments (Bayside)
Ocean Bay Apartments (Oceanside)