Authorities issued a voluntary evacuation order for Fire Island on Saturday, urging residents and visitors to leave Long Island’s largest barrier beach before Hurricane Henri hits on Sunday.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone warned anyone who does not heed the evacuation order may not be able to leave the vulnerable, car-free barrier island once the category 1 hurricane hits on Sunday, when ferry service will be canceled.
“We are urging residents and visitors to Fire Island to come off the island, to leave Fire Island today for their own safety,” Bellone told reporters during a news conference Saturday. “This storm is significant.”
Henri was upgraded from a tropical storm to a hurricane on Saturday, a day before it’s forecast to be the first hurricane to make landfall on Long Island since Hurricane Gloria 36 years ago. Gov. Andrew Cuomo seconded the call to evacuate Fire Island.
Fire Island is typically the first place to be evacuated when a big storm is in the forecast due to the fact that the general public relies on ferries to get there and back since most people cannot drive there, making it especially difficult for first responders to rescue people.
Bellone noted that once ferries are canceled, it is unclear when they will resume. When Superstorm Sandy damaged the island nine years ago before making landfall in New Jersey, ferries to Fire Island didn’t resume until two weeks after the storm.
“It is important for residents and visitors to understand…that if they do not leave the island today, they will be stuck on the island and we do not know what kind of conditions they will be facing,” Bellone warned.
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