Hurricane Irene: Lights to Go Dark on Broadway, NY Subways; Bodybag Order in NC

N.Y. Mayor Michael Bloomberg warns monster storm is heading "directly for us."

ByABC News
August 26, 2011, 4:48 AM

Aug. 26, 2011— -- As officials in North Carolina reportedly ordered more bodybags for locals refusing to leave what may be Hurricane Irene's first U.S. landfall zone, the menace has managed what nothing else has been able to do further north -- shut down the city that never sleeps.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg today announced the first ever mandatory evacuation of low-lying waterfront areas of the city. Those areas include parts of the financial district in Lower Manhattan, as well as sections along the Hudson and East rivers. The "danger" zone, which includes 250,000 people, was ordered emptied by 5 p.m. Saturday.

In fact, up and down the East Coast more than 2 million people were told to evacuate, The Associated Press reported.

See NYC Hurricane Evacuation Zones Map

Mayor Bloomberg also ordered that the city's sprawling subway and bus system -- Gotham's lifeline -- be shut down from Saturday afternoon until Monday. Closing down the transit system will paralyze a city in which most people don't drive cars. A spokesperson for the MTA said that the entire subway system has only been shut down twice in recent memory, on Sept. 11, 2001, and during a strike in 2005.

After it became clear that the subway system would shut, the Broadway League declared that all weekend Broadway performances would be cancelled, and the New York Mets canceled Major League Baseball games scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

Five New York hospitals have begun to evacuate and transfer patients.

Bloomberg warned New Yorkers to not be fooled because "the sun is shining." He said Irene is a "dangerous storm," and "it's heading basically directly for us."

President Obama signed an emergency declaration for New York and urged people in the path of the storm to heed evacuation orders.

"I cannot stress this highly enough. If you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you have to take precautions now. Don't wait, don't delay," said Obama. "All indications point to this being a historic hurricane."