As Sandy barrels north and forecasts vary, Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters Friday the city has begun taking precautions but said at this time there is no call for mandatory evacuations and no plans to suspend the city's mass transit or cancel school.
Speaking at City Hall, the mayor said while the storm's impact is still uncertain New Yorkers should "Plan to go to school, plan to go to work" Monday, which is when Sandy is expected to reach the city.
Bloomberg says the city's Office of Emergency Management is getting ready for whatever the storm may bring and that things could change.
Mayor Bloomberg said the city will use the same response plan followed during Hurricane Irene last year, but will not include the evacuation of low-lying areas of the city that are home to roughly 375,000 residents.
Should that change, the Mayor Bloomberg says he thinks there will be enough time for the city to let people know they need to leave.
"They'll have to use public transportation or drive," Bloomberg said. "The thing that we worry about most is that people decide not to listen to the order to evacuate."
Additionally, hospitals in those areas will also not be evacuated. Instead, the city is recommending they discharge patients that are easily released.
Bloomberg urged New Yorkers should stock up on basic supplies and prepare a Go Bag that includes drinking water, a first aid kit, flashlights and batteries, medications, essential documents and ID's, and an extra set of house an car keys.
The mayor also announced the Department of Education's entrance exams to specialized high schools will still go on as scheduled Saturday, but that Sunday's exam has been rescheduled for Nov. 18.
The mayor urged New Yorkers to avoid parks on Sunday in case high winds cause tree limbs to fall. He also said that city senior centers will close early Monday and remain closed through Tuesday.
The National Hurricane Center says the eastern third of the country could be affected by Sandy, with coastal flooding, heavy rains and damaging winds affecting a larger area than Irene.
A large and slow-moving storm, Sandy is predicted to cause wind damage, and widespread power outages, in addition to inland flooding and storm surge. With a full moon on Sunday, the tides will peak as the storm hits on Monday and Tuesday, making flooding a strong possibility.
The concern is that Sandy could converge with a wintry storm coming from the west and cool air from Canada to create a storm that could cause flooding and wind damage and possibly snow.
Sandy is churning through the Bahamas, but Florida is already feeling its effects.
Due to the expected high winds, Department of Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri on Friday ordered all exterior work at construction sites in the city suspended as of 5 p.m. Saturday until further notice.
The DOB is also reminding all contractors and property owners to secure their construction sites and belongings, such as chairs and plants on terraces.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says all planned subway service changes this weekend are canceled with the exception of changes planned for the 7 and J lines, which are scheduled through Saturday only.
Mayor Bloomberg says a decision on whether or not to suspend service on subways and buses will not be made until over the weekend.
For the latest on transit conditions and alerts, visit mta.info.
On the state level, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Friday in addition to directing New York's Division of Homeland Security to monitor the storm he has declared a state of emergency.
Cuomo says it allows every county in New York access to federal funding, and allows more flexibility among the government.
The National Guard has also been put on standby.
"In a situation like this, the National Guard is very helpful to the state in equipment, personnel power, etc.," Cuomo said.
Cuomo is also urging residents to prepare storm kits.
So far, more than 20 people have been killed as the storm moved over Haiti, Jamaica and Cuba.
For more information on the city's storm preparations, visit nyc.gov/oem.