Staten Island Residents Brace Themselves for Nor’easter

By Mathew Katz on November 7, 2012 4:43pm 

SOUTH BEACH — As a second major storm began to sweep across Staten Island, many residents affected by Hurricane Sandy braced themselves for the coming rain and wind in their powerless, unheated homes.

By early Wednesday afternoon, wet snow and chilling winds were already blanketing the hard-hit south shore of the borough. The nor'easter was expected to bring gusts of up to 60 mph, and city officials encouraged locals to leave the area, although a mandatory evacuation was not in effect.

Joanne Bellina, 61, had her bungalow destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, but planned to ride out the storm with her sister, who lives next-door in a second floor apartment which lacks heat, but which was spared from the flooding of last week’s storm surge.

“I don’t think the waves will come as high as last time,” she said. “Even if we left, where do you go? You can’t get a hotel.”

As the storm worsened on Wednesday, volunteers, Red Cross trucks, and police combed the neighborhood searching for residents in need of either supplies for the storm or a ride to higher, warmer ground.

“We’ve been doing our best to help people if they want to stay,” said Paul Montoya, a volunteer who’s brought food and clothing to her Staten Island neighbors since the storm hit, and on Wednesday has been informing residents about the suggestion for residents of certain areas to evacuate.

“Some people didn’t even know they should evacuate. One woman we spoke to started crying when we told her and then left.”

Montoya and her crew of other Staten Island Good Samaritans spent 10 minutes trying to help Tatiana Belkina, who insisted on remaining in her destroyed home, where waters rose up 10 feet.

“We might leave tonight, but not now,” she said around 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday. “Maybe around five.”

As FEMA and the city’s relief and distribution centers began to close down for the Nor’easter, several local help areas began to shutter as well.

Worship and Praise Community Church on 11 Olympia Blvd., where many locals went for food, heat, or to charge their electronic devices, planned to close their doors for the first time since Sandy at 5 p.m.

“We’re afraid of falling branches,” said Wanda Cruz, a volunteer there. “It would be way too dangerous to have people walking down the street to get here."

Joanne Bellina, who planned to weather the storm, added that she had a contingency plan if the waters did rise more than expected.

“There’s always the attic,” she said.

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