Sandy Victims Face Another Evacuation as Nor'easter Blows In
NEW YORK — New Yorkers who were hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy are being asked to evacuate from their devastated neighborhoods once again, as a new winter storm bears down on the city.
Officials are asking residents of low-lying areas including the Rockaways and the south shore of Staten Island to evacuate in advance of a nor’easter that is forecast to slam storm-ravaged neighborhoods Wednesday with high winds, pounding rain and wet snow.
“We are going to go to some very low areas where normally you would have flooding and try to evacuate people,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters Tuesday afternoon.
The NYPD will drive through at-risk neighborhoods with loudspeakers Tuesday evening to encourage residents to leave, but the city will not issue a mandatory order to evacuate all of Zone A, as happened during Hurricane Sandy.
Louie Rueda, 62, who lives on Beach 41st Street with his wife, said he had no plan to leave his home, especially because several displaced relatives are staying with him.
"[Sandy] is the worst that could happen," Rueda said. "We don't have electricity, so it's going to be bitterly cold. Otherwise, we're not afraid. We've been through this, so what's the problem?"
Lynn Collins, 56, a longtime Rockaways resident, hadn't heard about the evacuation but said she planned to follow Bloomberg's recommendation.
"When the mayor says, 'Go,' I go," said Collins, who lives at the Beach 41st Street Houses. "I'm not staying here, not when the mayor says, 'Leave.' Not when the news broadcasts say this doesn't look safe. As long as I have my life, everything else can be replaced."
The upcoming winter storm ordinarily would not pose a large threat to the city, but in the wake of the hurricane, officials are worried about how the newly eroded coastline will handle the predicted storm surge of up to 4-1/2 feet.
Officials issued evacuation orders for four healtchare facilities in the Rockaways Tuesday evening, including Park Nursing Home (181 residents), Ocean Promenade Nursing Center (91 residents), Peninsula Center for Extended Care and Rehabilitation (180 residents) and Surfside Manor Home for Adults (173 residents).
Bloomberg is also concerned that trees could topple under the heavy rains and snow, along with steady winds of 25 to 45 miles per hour and gusts of up to 55 miles per hour.
“The danger is a little greater because you have trees that have had an enormous amount of water around the base,” Bloomberg said.
All city parks will be closed from noon Wednesday to noon Thursday, Bloomberg said.
The Sanitation Department will ramp up cleanup efforts in low-lying areas including Staten Island, southern Queens and southern Brooklyn in advance of the storm, while cutting back on garbage collection in other areas, Bloomberg said.
And the Department of Buildings is suspending all construction in the city starting at noon on Wednesday and advised property owners to secure any loose materials.
On Monday night, Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned New Yorkers that the nor’easter would be “a serious storm,” made worse by the damaged homes and the detritus still littering streets and lawns.
“We are taking it seriously," Cuomo said. “You could have a lot of dangerous debris flying around.”
The biggest risks from the storm are falling trees, airborne debris and the high-tide storm surge at 1 p.m. and midnight on Wednesday, AccuWeather.com meteorologist Tom Kines said Monday.
"The fact that it’s following in the heels with Sandy…it is going to be a big deal,” Kines said.
Con Edison does not plan to do any preemptive blackouts to protect equipment in advance of the storm, as the utility did in Lower Manhattan before Hurricane Sandy, because flooding isn't expected to be as severe, a spokesman said.
Con Ed's two biggest concerns about the new storm are that fallen trees will cause additional outages and that the heavy rain will prevent crews from restoring power to the tens of thousands of New Yorkers who are still in the dark, the utility said.
With reporting by Irene Plagianos and Tom Liddy.