Hurricane Irene: the evacuation of more than 250,000 New Yorkers ordered

The cyclone, downgraded to category 2, goes to U.S. shores. Barack Obama cut short his vacation.

The New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg Friday, August 26 ordered the mandatory evacuation of more than 250,000 New Yorkers living in vulnerable areas, in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Irene. "This is the first time," he said, that such action is taken in the city.

The mayor also announced that all public transport would be closed from Saturday noon as a precaution, and recommended to all New Yorkers to stay home for 24 hours from Saturday night.

The sectors affected by the mandatory evacuation include Coney Island and Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn, Far Rockaway and Broad Channel in Queens, and other coastal areas of Staten Island.

"You must take precautions now"

"The danger is great," said the mayor, calling New Yorkers to be cautious. Friday, some hospitals in vulnerable coastal areas began to evacuate their patients to other facilities. New Yorkers have for their part, bought flashlights and started to store food. Some chose to leave town to get away from the threat.

President Barack Obama has in turn called on his countrymen to "take seriously" Hurricane Irene, which could affect some 65 million people. "If you are on the projected path of the hurricane, you should take precautions now," Obama said from his vacation home in Massachusetts in the northeast. And "if you are ordered to evacuate, I beg you to obey."

Obama joined the White House

The U.S. president has to leave on Friday his vacation home in Martha's Vineyard, a day earlier than expected to reach Washington because of the hurricane, said a spokesman for the White House. Barack Obama felt safer to reach the White House, told reporters a spokesman for the presidency, Josh Earnest.

"The president told his team he wanted to leave Martha's Vineyard that night to return to the White House," said the spokesman. Martha's Vineyard is an island off the coast of Massachusetts in the northeast. "We need to take this storm seriously," said this morning the U.S. president about Irene, speaking even a hurricane proportions of potentially "historic".

The hurricane was downgraded to Category 2 on the Saffir-Simpson, who has five, with winds of 175 km / h, but the U.S. hurricane center (NHC) in Miami, Florida, provides a new building by Saturday.

Many hospitals already evacuated

At 9am GMT on Friday, the eye of the storm was located off the coast of Florida, 675 km from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and progressed at a speed of 22 km / h to the north, according to the latest bulletin NHC.

This path leads straight to the East Coast of the United States, the hurricane should hit Saturday morning before returning Sunday to New York. In anticipation, the State authorities from North Carolina to that of New York have declared a state of emergency, and tens of thousands of people were ordered to move away from the coast.

The Mayor of the City of New York had, on Thursday evening, ordered the evacuation of several hospitals and homes of elderly people, and invited New Yorkers to store staples.

Waves 3 to 4 meters

"We need people to understand that there is a lot of time and must be ready," he in turn warned the head of the federal agency for emergency situations, Craig Fustat.

According to the meteorological services, the storm will be "extremely dangerous" and could lead to rising water 3 to 4 feet, with winds of 153 km / h. Authorities in Dare County, North Carolina, home to 180,000 people have already warned the public that emergency services would not help those who had ignored orders to evacuate the zone.

So far, Irene has been at least five dead in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, where the damage amounted to more than $ 500 million, according to Governor Luis Fortuno.