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NYC waters rise to Irene levels before superstorm

By Tom Hays

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Oct. 29 2012 10:53 a.m. MDT

The major American stock exchanges closed for the day, the first unplanned shutdown since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001. The floor of the NYSE, typically bustling with traders on a Monday morning, fell within the city's mandatory evacuation zone. The United Nations canceled all meetings at its New York headquarters. New York called off school for the city's 1.1 million students.

The NYSE's parent company said late Sunday that the shutdown might be extended through Tuesday.

Bloomberg on Sunday announced a mandatory evacuation affecting low-lying areas from the beaches of Queens to Battery Park City. Subways and buses were shut down beginning 7 p.m. Sunday, leaving more than 5 million mostly carless daily riders on their own to get to higher ground.

Cuomo deployed National Guard troops to the city and Long Island. Consolidated Edison weighed the possibility of shutting down power in parts of lower Manhattan to protect equipment. Broadway shows were canceled for Sunday and Monday. One small hospital was being evacuated, while several others were moving patients to higher floors.

It marked the second time in 14 months that New York City has faced a scenario forecasters have long feared: a big hurricane hitting the city or a bit south, such that the cyclone's counterclockwise winds drive water into miles of densely populated shoreline.

Hurricane Irene ultimately came ashore as a tropical storm in Coney Island, with a 4-foot storm surge that washed over parts of the southern tip of Manhattan but didn't wreak the havoc that officials had feared, although it caused tremendous damage elsewhere. Some experts have said that a surge 3 feet higher could have caused huge damage.

Associated Press writers Verena Dobnik, Karen Matthews in New York, and Larry Neumeister, Frank Eltman and Meghan Barr on Long Island, and Seth Borenstein in Kensington, Md., contributed to this report.

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