Hurricane Irene snarls New York highways, tunnels, sidewalks
Although the massive New York transit system -- subways, buses and commuter trains -- was shut down in anticipation of the storm, the metropolitan area was still open if you were willing to get behind a wheel or stroll a sidewalk.
Until this morning.
As Hurricane Irene roars through the area, flooding and downed trees are shutting down parts of major roads, highways, tunnels and bridges ringing New York City and making some sidewalks impassable.
On the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, the flooding was serious enough for the mayor of Hoboken to order the evacuation of all residents living in ground-floor apartments. On the Manhattan side, sea water is sloshing across sidewalks across Lower Manhattan from Battery Park City to the South Street Seaport area.
The FDR Highway along the eastern side of Manhattan is shut down in both directions near Houston Street because of a fallen tree, while the West Side Highway is blocked around Harlem due to flooding. The New Jersey-bound Holland Tunnel is closed due to flooding,
Not that New Yorkers are jumping in their cars to go anywhere right now.
(Who could tear themselves away from television after watching a reporter waist deep in water on Eastern Long Island surrounded by floating mailboxes or seeing another reporter get nearly knocked over by a wave on the New Jersey beach and then scream "Get out of here! Get out of here!" and hurling her microphone toward her crew?)
New York Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway told NBC News shortly after 9 a.m. that although things may be clearing up a bit in the city — the rain and wind have lightened a bit and the skies are brightening— “that could be deceptive.”
“We are in the most intense part of the storm,” Holloway said. “Stay indoors … the dangers of winds, things blowing off balconies is still extremely high."
-- Geraldine Baum in New York
Photo: Water from New York Harbor floods a bicycle and pedestrian path in Battery Park as Hurricane Irene advances on New York. Credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images