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Hurricane Irene forces NYC subway shutdown, postpones MLK memorial dedication

By Kase Wickman
Friday, August 26, 2011 14:21 EDT
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NEW YORK CITY RESIDENTS: Click here to see a map of the evacuation zones (PDF)

Weather waits for no man — not even if those men are President Barack Obama and Martin Luther King Jr.

As the East Coast braces for the impact of Hurricane Irene, it’s not only evacuation maps and emergency supply lists making the rounds — planned events, as well as tourist attractions and infrastructure, are also throwing in the towel for the weekend.

The dedication of the MLK Memorial in Washington, D.C., originally planned for Sunday and featuring an address from Obama, has been postponed, the Associated Press reported.

Sunday also marks the 48th anniversary of King’s famous “I have a dream” speech. Around 250,000 people were expected to attend the dedication, and no new date has been announced.

In less historically inspired storm-related happenings, Atlantic City’s 11 casinos are closed this weekend. It’s only the third time in the 33-year history of legalized gambling that doors will be closed to high rollers and tourists, the Associated Press reported.

In a press conference Friday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie warned tourists away from the state’s weekend attractions.

“Security, surveillance, maintenance operations and personnel have been ramped up and coordinated to ensure that the necessary resources to protect and secure the casino properties are in place,” Christie said. “In addition, there will be no eastbound flow into Atlantic City after six o’clock this evening. So if for some reason you’re thinking about going to dinner in Atlantic City tonight, forget it. Go someplace else.”

The casinos will shut down at noon Saturday, as will another iconic institution: the New York City subway system.

Officials announced Friday that the entire New York City public transportation system would be shut down. The high wind speeds expected pose danger to the above-ground trains and the possibility of storm surge threatens to flood the underground tunnels.

The transportation system could be inactive as late as Monday, Jay H. Walder, chairman of the Metropolitan Transit Authority said at a press conference.

“It’s hard to predict when it will come back,” Walder said, “because I can’t really predict for you exactly what will happen in the storm.”

The NYC subway system is the largest and busiest in the U.S., carrying an estimated 1.6 billion people per year.

Nate Silver, author of the New York Times’ fivethirtyeight blog, said that a worst-case scenario of the hurricane passing close to NYC at full power would be a “multi-billion dollar catastrophe.” NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has already ordered some evacuations.

Kase Wickman
Kase Wickman
Kase Wickman is a reporter for Raw Story. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and grew up in Eugene, OR. Her work has been featured in The Boston Globe, Village Voice Media, The Christian Science Monitor, The Houston Chronicle and on NPR, among others. She lives in New York City and tweets from @kasewickman.
 
 
 
 
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