If it stays on its current path, Irene could tear through Norfolk, Virginia, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, New York City, Boston and Portland, Maine – impacting more than 55 million people. Governors in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York have already declared states of emergency. Airlines have started cancelling flights. And people have already started to make references to "Come on, Eileen" on the Internets.
Irene bodes particularly worrisome for the 20 million in the Greater New York area, the most densely populated place in the United States. Eight million people live New York City alone, and mostly without cars (there's just no place to park). Any sort of evacuation could be a giant mess as most people rely on public transportation like subways, buses and commuter rails to get around.
New York city officials are considering evacuating residents in low-lying areas near the water, which includes Ground Zero. There's concern about the construction site itself and whether the cranes would be able to hold up against hurricane-force winds.
New York, more known for its sticky summers and winter blizzards, doesn't have much experience in the hurricane department. There have only been five hurricanes on record dating back to 1851 that came within 75 miles of New York City.
We dug up an old school Nightly News piece on Hurricane Gloria from September 27, 1985, which took a similar path up the East Coast. Then Nightly News anchorman Tom Brokaw explained scaffolding was tightened on the Statue of Liberty and the Twin Towers at The World Trade Center were temporarily shutdown, giving 50,000 workers a holiday.