New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's office has announced that the governor has deployed an additional 1,000 New York National Guard troops to assist traffic control on bridges and tunnels, sandbagging operations at the World Trade Center site, evacuation shelter operations in New York City, the construction of barriers for railway yards and train tunnels, and other emergency efforts as the state prepares for Hurricane Irene.
"It is important to take every precaution as we prepare for the impact of Hurricane Irene," Governor Cuomo said. "I have deployed additional members of the New York National Guard to make sure the evacuation process runs smoothly and to help with the emergency response efforts."
The additional troops deployed this afternoon puts the total number of active New York National Guard members on active duty to 1,900. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn dispatched 160 Illinois National Guard troops this afternoon to New York to help prepare for the hurricane.
“Hurricane Irene is a serious threat to millions of people along the East Coast, and we’re prepared to provide assistance wherever needed,” Quinn said in the statement.
Illinois has also sent six UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters and two CH-47 Chinook helicopters, and called in an additional 1,000 troops to report to their units to prepare for possible deployment to the East Coast as well. Quinn's office told the Chicago Tribune that New York has agreed to reimburse Illinois for expenses related to the deployment.
Two thousand Massachusetts National Guard troops were activated Saturday, joining the 500 already deployed Friday. The Virginia National Guard said about 325 troops have gathered at various staging areas in the state. The governor of Pennsylvania has sent 1,750 National Guard members to help in flood-prone areas.
Irene has weakened slightly, with sustained winds down to 85 mph from about 100 a day earlier, making it a Category 1, the least threatening on the scale. The National Hurricane Center reported gusts of 115 mph and waves as high as 7 feet.
In an unprecedented move, more 370,000 people in flood-prone areas of New York City were told to get out ahead of the storm. There was no specific number on how many people had followed the order, but only 1,400 people were staying in city shelters. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said by some building estimates, between 50 to 80 percent of people had left.
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In expectation of Irene, the nation's largest subway system shut down, and Broadway shows and sporting events were also canceled. New York City businesses were closed and subway riders raced to catch the last trains.
Mayor Boomberg said there would be no effect on the Sept. 11 memorial opening the day after the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.