New York City expected an almost-direct hit by Irene Sunday. Mayor Mike Bloomberg, having urged 370,000 residents of low-lying areas to move to higher ground, said at a press briefing late Saturday night that it was now too late, and people should stay indoors.
"The time for evacutation is over," he said.
More than 30,000 cots were set up at shelters, though only about 5,500 people had arrived to use them Saturday evening.
"I came from Far Rockaway," said Crystal Pirela, who brought her 10-month-old daughter Anaya to a New York shelter. "It was a mandatory evacuation. It's pretty decent in there. They're organized for the most part. Having a baby in there is a little bit uncomfortable, but it's better to be safe than sorry."
When asked about safety and potential looting in the city, Bloomberg said, "This is New York. We don't have that sort of thing."
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered 2,000 National Guard troops deployed to Long Island, New York City, and the Hudson Valley area to help with the storm. Troops will help staff shelters, control evacuation routes, monitor flood threats at the World Trade Center site and work with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to secure railways and train tunnels.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said he feared residents were not doing enough to prepare for the expected 6-10 inches of rain that could come with the storm.
"I need to stress that when it stops raining, doesn't mean that it will stop flooding," he said.
Philadelphia's Mayor Michael Nutter said the Schuylkill River was expected to crest at 15 feet on Sunday night -- something that has not happened there since 1869. SEPTA, the area's rapid-transit system, shut down to wait out the storm, and PECO, the local electric company, said at least 139,000 customers were without power as of Saturday evening.
Public transportation in New York City stopped as well, and Mayor Bloomberg said he didn't expect the subways to resume running until sometime on Monday.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has issued a prepare-to-deploy order for 6,500 active duty troops from all the services to support hurricane relief efforts if necessary.
President Obama spoke with government officials about the storm at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) command center.
Obama said that the storm is "going to be touch and go but the federal government is prepared."
"It's going to be a long 72 hours," he said.