What Hurricaine Irene Could Do To New York This Weekend As It Targets Heavily Populated Urban Centers
The East Coast continues to brace itself for a weekend that could lead to major headaches in the wake of this storm.
Imagine a vulnerable island, parts of it man-made, with towering buildings and lots of people crammed into small spaces. Now imagine a monster storm slamming into that island.
Manhattan vs. Irene.
It could happen Sunday, and hurricane experts are warning New Yorkers that even though Irene may not be a killer in the vein of Katrina, millions of people could be trapped in their homes for days. Without power, transportation, phones -- and experience.
A hurricane warning was issued late Friday afternoon for the New York City area, as well as points eastward to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, stoking fears that Irene could be the most destructive hurricane to hit the metropolis since 1938.
"The basic issue is, first, New York City has world-class emergency planners. I mean, they're the best in the game. But the city is out of practice when it comes to hurricanes," said homeland security expert Stephen Flynn, author of "The Edge of Disaster."
But it's not just New York that faces Hurricane Irene's wrath as it churns northward.
A heavily populated urban corridor from the nation's capital to the New York metropolitan area stands a chance of a wet and windy lashing.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned that significant power outages are likely on the East Coast.
"This isn't a mammoth storm ... in terms of lots of death and destruction, but what it is going to do is be very disruptive, and people have to be in position to camp out in their house," Flynn said.
"Time is always your ally before a disaster. It's always your enemy after a disaster," he said. "Using the time now to get prepared is key. When you have that many people packed in a little space, as dependent as they are on the transportation, everybody has to get informed and get better prepared."