BUFFALO, N.Y. - High winds and rain are on their way all across New York State.
In a press conference at the Nittec Building Sunday morning, New York State Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy said the state is well prepared for the heavy storm system.
"The Governor has put everything in place. He has declared the emergency, the teams have been activated," Duffy said. "The most important thing we could ask for is common sense on behalf of people not traveling."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday a series of steps the state has taken to prepare for approaching Hurricane Sandy, including ordering New York City public transportation to stop service, deploying nearly 1,200 National Guard troops to respond to storm damage and intentionally lowering water levels in the Erie Canal.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority will suspend service for subways and trains, including on the Metro-North routes, at 7 p.m. Sunday. Buses in New York City will stop running at 9 p.m.
The soldiers will be ready to aid local authorities in New York City, Long Island, the Hudson Valley and the Southern Tier, equipped with several Blackhawk and utility helicopters and more than 900 axle trucks and Humvees. The state Canal Corporation has taken action to lower the Erie Canal 12 to 16 feet below normal navigational levels in an attempt to prevent or mitigate flooding.
"We are doing everything we can do to be ready for this situation," Cuomo said Sunday afternoon at a news conference near Albany.
Cuomo traveled the state Sunday conferring with local officials on storm preparations, stopping in Long Island, the Albany-area and the North Country, as well as holding a conference call with officials from the Southern Tier.
The landfall and damage of Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 helped to prepare the state for the coming storm, Cuomo said.
"We're learning from those lessons just last year," Cuomo said. "Unfortunately, we've had too much experience at this."
Hurricane Sandy, which will meet a winter storm and a cold front as it heads north, is expected to bring life-threatening storm surge flooding to the Mid-Atlantic Coast, according to the National Hurricane Center. Winds are expected to be near hurricane force at landfall.
As of Sunday afternoon, the center of Hurricane Sandy was about 270 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., and 575 miles south of New York City, the center said. Sandy, a Category 1 hurricane, has maximum sustained winds of 75 mph.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered residents in some low-lying areas to evacuate by Sunday night.
The governor warned New Yorkers to stay put during the storm.
"This is nothing to be trifled with. This is not a storm to play with," Cuomo said. "And I know people say, that's a weather forecast, and a lot of times they turn out not to be true, and that's accurate.
"But this is not the time to take a chance," he continued. "We don't want you out there on the roads. We don't want you putting yourself in a situation where you could endanger yourself."
Governor Cuomo has also directed members of the New York Army and Air National Guard to provide assistance throughout New York State.
The Soldiers will aid local police and emergency services in responding to storm damage in New York City, Long Island, the Hudson Valley and the Southern Tier. The New York National Guard has equipment set aside specifically for storms and is prepared to use aircraft and satellite communications.
1,175 Citizen Soldiers and Airmen from the Guard are reporting to their assignments Sunday.
President Obama has granted Gov. Cuomo's request for a federal emergency declaration. The federal government will be able to provide assistance and resources to New York State and local governments to support activities related to evacuation and providing shelter.
If needed, the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can provide assistance with debris management, logistics management and electric power generation.
The City of Buffalo is considering postponing Trick-or-Treating on Halloween based on current forecasts.
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Additional Reporting By Jessica Bakeman, Albany Bureau