Officials Order Voluntary Evacuation of Fire Island
Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy and local officials have ordered a voluntary evacuation of Fire Island ahead of Hurricane Irene.
Levy, who was flanked by Islip Town Supervisor Phil Nolan and Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko at a press conference in Yaphank earlier on Thursday, Aug. 25, said a mandatory evacuation of the beach is "very likely." He said officials would make that determination by early Friday, Aug. 26. Levy further stressed that additional evacuations on the mainland are also possible as the hurricane approaches the area.
"We’re worried about getting people off of Fire Island right now," he said.
Islip officials earlier on Thursday urged Fire Islanders to begin to voluntarily evacuate Ocean Beach, Fair Harbor, Saltaire, Kismet and other parts of Fire Island ahead of Irene. "We feel that it is in the best interests of the residents of Fire Island to begin to leave now," said Nolan.
As of 5 p.m. on Thursday, the center of Irene was roughly 575 miles south of Cape Hatteras, N.C. Maximum sustained winds were 115 mph and the storm was moving north-northwest at 14 mph.
A Hurricane Warning has been issued from Little River Inlet, S.C., to the North Carolina/Virginia border, while a Hurricane Watch is now in effect from the North Carolina/Virginia border to Sandy Hook, N.J. This includes Delaware Bay and Chesapeake Bay south of Smith Point. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Chesapeake Bay north of Smith Point and the Potomac River estuary.
A Tropical Storm Warning is now in effect from Edisto Beach, S.C., to Little River Inlet, S.C.
Bay Shore-based Fire Island Ferries, the Sayville Ferry Service and the Davis Park Ferry Co. in Patchogue continue to operate on a normal schedule between the mainland and the beach. Tim Mooney of Fire Island Ferries said ferries between Bay Shore and Fire Island will operate as normal on Friday. Sayville Ferries will close their daily parking lot across from their terminal at 3 p.m. on Saturday in anticipation of flooding from Irene.
Forecasters expect Irene will make landfall in Nassau County, possibly near the Queens border on Sunday, Aug. 28. Hurricane force winds and a storm surge are expected on Fire Island during the height of the storm.