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Governor Andrew Cuomo this afternoon issued a stern warning to New Yorkers as Tropical Storm Henri approaches and develops into a Category 1 Hurricane. “Take this seriously. Prepare for the worst — hope for the best,” Cuomo said on Twitter.

New York has faced a summer of dramatic storms. Photo: Gary Hershorn.

Henri is currently a Category 1 hurricane, which means sustained winds of about 80 mph. It could also bring a storm surge of three to six feet. Cuomo said: “Superstorm Sandy was also a Category 1 when it hit New York.”

In response to the storm making landfall in Long Island tomorrow, Mayor Bill de Blasio has declared a State of Emergency in New York. “We are continuing to monitor Tropical Storm Henri. We expect strong winds and rain to begin late tonight and last through tomorrow. We expect as much as 6 inches of rain with 3-5 feet of coastal flooding in Northern Queens/Bronx,” the Mayor announced on Twitter.

Fire Island residents and visitors were urged to evacuate by boats with the last departure at 10.40pm tonight (Saturday). “I urge residents to check ferry service times and make plans to leave the barrier island today. They will be stuck on the island and we do not know what kind of conditions they may be facing. But they could be difficult. They could be dangerous,” said Steve Bellone, the Suffolk County Executive.

All New York Beaches will be closed tomorrow, as well as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. New York State Canal Corporation will preemptively lift its movable dams along the Erie Canal and Mohawk River early tomorrow morning to reduce flooding risk from the impact of Henri.

Stacy Blundell of Currently weather service gave an update this afternoon. “The forecast track puts eastern Long Island in its direct path but tropical storm conditions are still likely in the city. A Tropical Storm Warning is now in effect for NYC. The brunt of the storm is Sunday with tropical storm conditions lasting through Sunday night. Torrentially heavy rains are likely for a huge part of the tri-state region and beyond, especially upstate New York, all of Connecticut, western Massachusetts, and southern Vermont. These areas could receive as much as 8 inches or more. This will be a historic rainstorm for many people, with potential for historic flooding,” said Blundell.

This summer, New York City updated its evacuation zones based on new data from the National Weather Service — and roughly one million residents are now classified in a different zone to last year. At the moment, Henri is classed as a Tropical Storm level in the city — so no hurricane evacuation is planned (unless the storm changes course).

The city’s recently relaunched “Know Your Zone” awareness campaign helps residents find their evacuation zone and take steps to prepare their emergency plans. There are six hurricane evacuation zones, and roughly 3.1 million New Yorkers now live in one of them.  

Zone 1 residents are most likely to be ordered to evacuate, depending on a hurricane’s strength, track, and storm surge. The city has released a new map where you can enter your address and see what zone you fall under. 

In Hell’s Kitchen, the highest risk areas are from the waterfront to 11th Avenue, falling under Zones 1 and 2. The blocks between 11/10th Avenue range from Zones 3-6 and some areas of Zone 5 and 6 extend as far as the Port Authority area. 

Hurricane season is coming. Photo: NASA/Unsplash.

“New Yorkers have been through extraordinary challenges in the past year. Now, it’s on all of us to make sure we’re ready for the next emergency ― and that means having a plan for hurricane season,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said this summer. “Knowing your evacuation zone, preparing for flooding, and checking in on your neighbors and the elderly are easy steps that will make a difference when it matters most. Together, let’s stay safe this season and build a recovery for all of us.”

NYC Emergency Management has released a new episode of its podcast Prep Talk, which details all the changes and ways of staying safe.

*Additional reporting by Alexandra Alexa.

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