NEW YORK CITY — As New Yorkers filled shopping carts with both necessities and "hurricane party" supplies, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city was prepared for anything, but not expecting the worst.
"This is a dangerous storm, but I think we are going to be okay," Mayor Bloomberg told reporters.
"It's nothing we don't think we can handle," he added later, speaking from the Brooklyn headquarters of the Office of Emergency Management.
On Sunday, however, Bloomberg did order a mandatory evacuation of low-lying areas of the city such as Battery Park City. City offices would remain open on Monday, he said, despite the shutdown of transit, and sanitation pickup would continue as usual he said Saturday, though he said customers should weigh down trash bags if needed in the high winds.
Bloomberg said the city would determine on Sunday whether or not public schools would open next week, adding that it was somewhat dependent on if the MTA proceeded with an emergency plan to shut down all bus and train service. (Update: Shutdowns of the schools and public transit were later announced, on Sunday.)
"If there is no mass transit, we'll have to see," he said. East River ferry services would be closed until further notice starting Saturday evening, he said.
All activities in city parks would be ending at 2 p.m., and parks will be emptied and closed at 5 p.m., he said.
He then pleaded with surfers to skip the mammoth waves.
"The beaches are dangerous, and the surfing especially is dangerous," said Bloomberg, then added, speaking for the sake of emergency workers' safety: "You just don't have a right to do that to somebody else."
Meanwhile, New Yorkers took the impending approach of Hurricane Sandy as a chance to get shopping done, and for some, to party.
At Fairway in Brooklyn — which is in a Zone A, or low-lying flood-prone area at the base of a pier — batteries, water, bread and milk were flying off the shelves, but a manager said no advance plan was in place to close early Sunday for the storm.
"We have to wait until it hits," said Andy Zuleta, general manager, who said safety of workers was a priority.
"We are monitoring the storm every hour. We have an emergency response team, and we have sandbags ready in case we need them," he added.
He said they had seen an uptick in sales, and were selling an "unusual amount" of the necessities.
"It's been busier than a normal Saturday," he said, despite being busy every Saturday. "It's just we've been getting hit a little harder."
On the Upper East Side, at D'Agostino on East 79th Street was also seeing an uptick in sales.
"It's a little busier than a usual Saturday morning," said manager Carlos Hidalgo, 50. "I think today's sales are up by maybe 35-40% compared to a normal Saturday."
Semi-retired writer Arnold Myer, 70, was stocking up, with 5 gallons of water in his cart. "You need candles, cash, canned food and water," he said. "Both my wife and myself are prepared when [the hurricane] happens."
"I'm hearing that a lot of people are going to have Hurricane Sandy parties over the weekend," said Jospeh Brown, 39, who works at the store. "That's just how New Yorkers deal with bad things."