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October 29, 2012

New York City Readying for Hurricane Sandy

by Adam Phillips

Hurricane Sandy continued to approach landfall in the northeastern United States Monday, potentially effecting millions with power outages, floods and loss of revenue.  In New York City, where low-lying neighborhoods have been evacuated and mass transit has been halted, residents prepared for an emergency that is expected to last at least through Tuesday. 

A light rain fell on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, where the streets are eerily quiet in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy, which forecasters say might be the “storm of a lifetime.”  But it is all bustle inside the West Side Market, where manager Ian Joscowitz has been putting the store’s emergency plan into action. 

“This is the second phase of the pre-storm panic.  Yesterday, we actually had to stop people at the door and had a line that was going around the block just to keep the store safe and make sure things did not get out of control.  We anticipated the storm, and loaded up.  So we have the water, we have bread, we have all the necessities, milk.  So we are good," he said. 

Most businesses are shuttered tight in this neighborhood, which is on high ground.  That includes newsstands, angering 80-year-old Bob Miller. “And I cannot buy a New York Times [newspaper] this morning.  That is what I am upset about," he said. 

​​New York’s public transportation system has been closed in anticipation of flooded streets and subway tunnels.  That is bad news for Deneen and her family, and millions of other mass transit users. 

“Yeah, it is affecting us.  We cannot take the bus or the train.  We got to get in cabs and spend a lot of money, and there is no way to get around and it is really crazy.  I work.  I go to school.  I am missing college right now," she said. 

The hurricane poses serious dangers, says Jimmy, a New York fireman.

Related video report by Peter Fedynsky
​​“Wind conditions are certainly going to affect our operations at fires because that is going to drastically affect the way the fire is going to flow.  It is easier for it to build.  And if we go to flood conditions or people that stayed in their homes when they are supposed to be evacuated, you are going to be worried about whether there are going to be any downed wires because that is the most chance for harm.  Obviously, when people leave their homes, there is more of a chance of things going wrong because people are not there to see it," he said. 

​​School closings have meant a lack of daycare for the city’s million-plus schoolchildren.  And although this has posed challenges for many working parents, this woman, Anjeli, says she is doing all she can to make the most of it.  

"Last night I made a double batch of chocolate chip cookies.  I made some coq au vin [a French chicken dish], so we have some food for the next couple of days.  We plan to play some games and we plan on watching some nature programs we recorded on the television.  So we are kind of excited.  We are going to have a storm dinner with our grandparents, and we are all kind of energized just being out in the city and feeling a part of the collective," she said. 

Few seem to doubt that New Yorkers will pull together during the challenges posed by Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath, just as they have during other emergencies.  “We are survivors,” quipped one longtime resident.  “The storm gives us her best shot, and then we will give her one shot better!”