New York City shut down its mass transit system, closed its schools and ordered hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes Sunday in the face of increasingly dire predictions about the wall of water that could hit the nation’s largest city as part of the superstorm bearing down on the East Coast.
A seawater surge of anywhere from 6 to 11 feet threatened to swamp parts of lower Manhattan, flood subway tunnels and knock out the underground network of power, phone and high-speed Internet lines that are the lifeblood of America’s financial capital.
While the New York Stock Exchange will close its trading floor, Big Board trading will continue electronically.
Still, some hardy residents said they weren’t going anywhere, even as the mayor urged them to go.
“If you don’t evacuate, you’re not just putting your own life in danger — you are also endangering the lives of our first responders who may have to come in and rescue you,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference Sunday as he announced a mandatory evacuation affecting 375,000 people in low-lying areas from the beaches of Queens to the glassy high-rises of Battery Park City. “This is a serious and dangerous storm.”
After days of more modest warnings, the tone grew sharper Sunday as the National Hurricane Center predicted “life-threatening flooding” for areas including New York Harbor.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo deployed National Guard troops to the city and neighboring Long Island. Consolidated Edison weighed the possibility of shutting down power in parts of lower Manhattan to protect equipment. Broadway shows were canceled for Sunday and Monday. One small hospital was being evacuated, while several others were moving patients to higher floors.
America’s biggest public school system, which serves 1.1 million students, was ordered closed Monday, while many of the schools opened Sunday as emergency shelters.