Batten down the hatches and get ready.
I don't think there is any need for panic or alarm. When Irene hits New York, it probably won't be Katrina or Camille or Galveston 1900, but it will be a serious storm that will make life very rough for a place with a high density population. I think people do well to take this seriously, and the city is right to take perhaps extreme precautions. It's always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
Besides, beneath all the anxiety and concern, people are really excited about this. It's even better than Tuesday's "quake." It's an opportunity to forget for a moment the daily excruciating grind of living through a rotten economy driven by rotten politics and rotten people. If this does turn out to be nothing more than drizzle with a breeze, then feelings of disappointment will be fighting it out with expressions of relief.