NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Yorkers overwhelmingly approve of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s decision to prepare for Hurricane Irene by ordering the evacuation of low-lying areas, according to a poll released Monday.

The Quinnipiac University Poll found that Bloomberg’s overall job approval is 54 percent, with 35 percent disapproving. That’s up from a 45 percent approval rating in a July 27 poll and is Bloomberg’s best score since a December blizzard.

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The poll found that 86 percent of New Yorkers approve of Bloomberg’s handling of preparations for Irene last month, compared with 10 percent who disapprove, and they approve specifically of the decision to order the evacuation of tens of thousands of New Yorkers by 90 percent to 8 percent.

The results are striking because critics accused Bloomberg of going overboard in preparing for Irene, which ended up hitting nearby suburban and rural communities harder than it hit the city.

“Some people said ‘overkill’ but most people said ‘Hey, better safe than sorry,'” Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, told 1010 WINS. “New York registered voters think he did a darn good job on the hurricane and that being the case his job approval numbers are in really healthy shape for the first time in a long, long time.”

The poll also found 60 percent of New Yorkers believe the redevelopment of lower Manhattan is going “very well” or “somewhat well,” up from 40 percent in an August 2009 survey.

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But there is still some skepticism about the rebuilding schedule, with 42 percent saying they believe that 1 World Trade Center, the skyscraper formerly called the Freedom Tower, will be finished by its target date of December 2013.

“As the World Trade Center rebuilding moves along, New Yorkers are comfortable with the pace,” Carroll said. “But 74 percent say it’s very important or somewhat important to see progress this year.”

Quinnipiac’s pollsters interviewed 1,282 randomly selected registered voters by phone from Sept. 1 to Sept. 6. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.

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