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Mayor Bloomberg On Evacuations: 'You Have To Start Right Now'

Hoping to convince anyone who is ignoring the mandatory evacuation orders for those living in New York City's low-lying areas, Mayor Michael Bloomberg just warned that if anyone hasn't already moved to higher ground, "you have to start right now."

Though Hurricane Irene has weakened somewhat, the mayor noted, that hasn't lessened the danger to the nation's most populous city.

"The great danger to us is from the [potential] storm surge" that could send several feet of water flooding into parts of the city, Bloomberg said. And that threat remains.

New York City has never had to evacuate its neighborhoods this way. More than 300,000 people are now said to be affected. And at noon ET today, its mass transit system shuts down. It's already starting to rain there, Bloomberg noted. The hurricane's eye is expected to get there early on Sunday.

As for his evacuation order and whether it's necessary, Bloomberg added that "you can't prepare for the best case. You have to prepare for the worst case."

Related note: On The Weather Channel a moment ago, they just said that you're not safe in a high-rise. Winds above the 25th floor or so are about one "category" stronger than those on the ground.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.