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Some East Villagers Head for High Ground as Others Stockpile Cheez-Its

By DNAinfo Staff on August 26, 2011 6:56pm

By Serena Solomon, Olivia Scheck and Patrick Hedlund

DNAinfo Staff

EAST VILLAGE — East Villagers who saw the oncoming Hurricane Irene as a reason to party got an early start Friday, heading to local bars and lining up at liquor stores shortly after Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered a mandatory evacuation of parts of the area.

A swath of the neighborhood lies in what's called Zone A — an area most vulnerable to hurricane storm surges. Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered everyone living in that zone to move out by 5 p.m. Saturday. But as some residents headed for higher ground, others headed for the bottle.

Brian G., who lives on East 11th Street between avenues B and C, bought everything from bread and water to cereal and Cheez-Its at a local grocery store. He planned to head to a friend’s place a few blocks outside the evacuation zone — but not before stopping off to pick up some alcohol.

"It's an excuse to do nothing,” said the former resident of Virginia and South Carolina, who has some experience with tropical storms. “Play funny board games and get drunk."

Vince Rosalia, 35, also hit the liquor store.

"I figure if it's going to last a couple days, we're going to have some time to kill," said Rosalia, who lives on East 13th Street and Avenue A, pointing to about six bottles of wine and some beer he had just purchased.

"I do have the other stuff, too — the food and water,” he added. “The alcohol came in the afternoon."

The line outside the Trader Joe’s supermarket on East 14th Street stretched down the block with people loading up on groceries.  Almost as many people were visiting the store's wine shop next door.

"New York City is full of alcoholics,” joked Fred Potier, 23, of Hell’s Kitchen. He planned to stay with a friend in Williamsburg for the weekend and was carrying three board games to provide the entertainment.

"Its back to basics,” Potier said. “It's like camp."

Nonetheless, some in Zone A, which extends from Avenue B to the East River between East 14th and East Eighth streets, and Avenue D from East Eighth to Houston streets, said they planned to weather the storm at home rather than heeding the city’s unprecedented evacuation order.

Jimmy Domena, 77, who lives in a basement apartment on East 9th Street between Avenues B and C, said he hadn’t been notified of the evacuation by anyone official, but had heard about it on the news and from friends.

"There is nothing you can do with Mother Nature when she goes on a rampage," he said, noting he stocked up on water and batteries.

"It has never flooded," Domena added of his below-ground apartment in the tenement building.

And if it does?

"I have my scuba gear," he said.

Julio Pinero dressed his two sons in red shirts to keep track of them as he prepared to head to the Bronx and stay with family as Hurricane Irene churned toward the city.

The 27-year-old single father lives at the Jacob Riis Houses on Avenue D, which is in the zone Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered evacuated.

"They heard about the storm, but I don't want to worry them too much. I just told them it was going to rain a lot," he said of his boys, while standing on the sidewalk with his suitcases packed.

"I feel like they are hyping it up,” Pinero said of the frenzy surrounding the storm. “I feel like it’s not going to be that bad, but it’s better to be safe than sorry."