BETHPAGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano announced on Friday evening that there would be mandatory evacuations of 300,000 people from areas that will be most closely impacted by Hurricane Irene.
Those most directly impacted include residents who live south of Sunrise Highway between the Queens line and Rockville Center, south of Merrick Road from Rockville center to the Suffolk County border and low-lying and storm surge areas on the north shore, including the Port Washington peninsula, East Island and parts Glen Cove, Bayville, Oyster Bay and Oyster Bay Cove.
"After discussions with the National Weather Service ... it appears we will experience a direct impact from Hurricane Irene on Sunday, with heavy winds and rain arriving tomorrow afternoon," Mangano said.
"It is essential this evacuation begin prior to wind gusts that exceed 55 mph. Once winds exceed 55 mph flying debris can be deadly and responses are limited."
Residents along the barrier islands were being urged to evacuate voluntarily. The barrier islands include Long Beach, Lido Beach, Atlantic Beach and Point Lookout.
Mangano said everyone must be evacuated by 5 p.m. Saturday.
Three public shelters were initially opened -- at Nassau Community College, SUNY Farmingdale, and Locust Valley High School. A specialty shelter for residents with pets has been opened at Mitchell Park's Field in Uniondale. Another 17 shelters opened by 7 p.m., Mangano said.
They are: North Shore High School in Glen Head, New Hyde Park High School, Plainview Middle School, Farmingdale High School, SUNY Old Westbury, Westbury High School, Gerald Claps Career and Tech Center in Levittown, Garden City High School, Glen Cove High School, Great Neck North High School, Manhasset High School, Paul Schreiber High School in Port Washington, Mineola High School, Hicksville High School, McKenna Elementary School in Massapequa Park, John F. Kennedy High School in Plainview, Sewanhaka High School in Floral Park, South High School in Great Neck, Division High School in Levittown and Weldon Howitt Middle School in Farmingdale.
All residents are being urged to have their emergency "Go" kits. Residents in coastal communities are being urged to fill up their gas tanks, have a three-day supply of canned food, bottled water, a flashlight, a manual can opener, a battery-operated radio and a first aid kit.
Nicole Torres of Freeport heeded the county executive's advice. CBS 2's Hazel Sanchez caught up to her as she was securing her house on Friday night.
"It's pretty scary. As you can see, we are boarding up the house now in hopes that it really just bypasses us. Go to drier ground. Hopefully it won't be too bad when we come back on Monday," Torres said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency and directed state agencies to prepare to help, and officials across the region were warning residents to gather basic supplies. The Metropolitan Transit Authority will shut down system-wide, including Long Island Rail Road, around noon Saturday.
A hurricane warning has been issued for Long Island and the Long Island Sound. As the now-Category 2 hurricane takes aim on the eastern seaboard, Long Islanders are doing whatever they can to prepare for the monster storm.
The storm is expected to reach Long Island's shores at high tide Saturday and bring surges as high as 12 feet. The National Weather Service predicted Friday that the storm's eye will pass over central Long Island in Suffolk County.
The last time an eye of a storm passed over New York City itself was in 1893. A speck of land off Long Island, called Hog Island, was completely washed away by a Category 1 storm.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy has ordered mandatory evacuations for barrier beach communities on western Fire Island at 3 p.m. Friday. Only homeowners will be allowed to use ferry service in order to secure their homes and properties. Ferry service will likely end sometime Saturday afternoon.
"I'm here 20 years; this is probably the third one," Ocean Beach Police Chief George Hesse said of the evacuation. "Fortunately, the last two were false alarms. But this doesn't look to be the false alarm."
WCBS 880's Sophia Hall On The Fire Island Evacuation
Carrying bags filled with clothing, photos, paintings, and other personal belongings, residents of Fire Island boarded up their homes, shut off the electricity, and left -- hoping for the best.
"Put all my deck furniture away, anything that might fly. Put evreything, hopefully, in the freezer, but we don't know what's going to happen there," Gloria Samanski told WCBS 880's Sophia Hall.
About 1,000 people live on Fire Island this time of year and many are summer vacationers. The ones CBS 2's Emily Smith spoke to were not questioning the mandatory evacuation.
"Just a couple days early for us. It's near the end. Fortunately, we will get home and be safe with the rest of our family," said Brian Brookes of Philadelphia.
"We are a young family. We're just getting out when we can. We don't want to stress our kids out," added Liz Nichter of Livingston, N.J.
Shelters have been opened at Brentwood High School and Longwood High School.
1010 WINS' Steve Sandberg reports: A Surfer's Dream
Irene is churning the ocean turning Long Beach into a surfer's paradise.
"These are the days you live for, this is what you wait for," one man told 1010 WINS' Steve Sandberg.
Long Beach has been busy setting up for next week's $1 million-prize professional surfing competition but now Beach Patrol Chief Paul Gillespie says the stages and tents that have been popping up on the sand have to go.
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"They have to get everything off the beach because they're going to lose a lot of equipment if they don't," he said.
Crews have also been piling up the sand building up berms about 15 feet high in hopes of protecting the boardwalk. Bathrooms have also been boarded up on the boardwalk.
In Greenport, residents were boarding up their homes.
In Dix Hills, Helen Hannan reluctantly put away her patio furniture as her 17-year-old son climbed up a ladder to duct tape the windows.
"Next weekend is Labor Day so it's going to be coming out again, it's not like it's the end of the season, it's not officially over," she told WCB 880's Sophia Hall. "I remember Hurricane Gloria; I remember we had no power for several days."
WCBS 880's Sophia Hall reports: Taking No Chances
Hardware stores and supermarkets have stayed busy the past few days and supplies like water are running out fast.
James Haas, of Huntington, lined up at the Lowe's store in Farmingdale waiting for a delivery of generators which were due to arrive Thursday at noon.
WCBS 880's Sophia Hall In Long Beach
"Next thing you knew it was 8 o'clock and then we got the 'Dear John' call that it wasn't coming," Haas said.
The 106th Rescue Wing of the Air National Guard in Westhampton Beach is moving its six Blackhawks and four C-130 aircraft used for search-and-rescue missions out of the storm's path Friday, planning to make them available in the aftermath.
The Long Island Power Authority plans to have 2,500 line workers and tree cutting personnel available through the weekend.
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