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Battery Park City Residents Defy Hurricane Evacuation Order

By Julie Shapiro | October 29, 2012 5:12pm

BATTERY PARK CITY — As Hurricane Sandy blew into New York Monday afternoon, many Battery Park City residents ignored the mandatory evacuation order and hunkered down in their apartments. 

Armed with flashlights, bottled water and stacks of food, dozens of tenants at Gateway Plaza prepared to wait out the storm, even while the complex's management shut down many of the elevators and warned that the electricity could be cut as well.

"I don't think we're in danger in the sense that the building is going to fall down," said Glenn Plaskin, president of the Gateway Plaza Tenants Association. "I think it's more a question of the electricity going out. For one night, we'll be alright."

The Battery Park City Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) had about a dozen trained volunteers on call, ready to respond to anything from a senior citizen trapped in an apartment to someone struck by a falling branch outside.

"We'll watch and wait and see what happens," said Sid Baumgarten, president of the Battery Park City CERT. "We're just keeping an eye on it."

Many neighborhood residents cleared out on Sunday, dragging suitcases and heading to nearby hotels or friends' and relatives' homes. A few joggers and dog walkers were out early on Monday, but by the afternoon the streets were mostly empty and shops and restaurants had closed.

Patti and Rich Brotman, who have lived at Gateway for nearly three decades, decided to stay home with their two dogs and five cats, just like they did during the mandatory evacuation for Hurricane Irene last year.

Patti Brotman said many of her neighbors with pets were remaining in place, because it's hard to move them and hotels are often not pet-friendly.

"Everything is closed down here — everything," Brotman said. "I'm concerned my windows are going to blow out. That's my biggest concern. They're old, and the insulation is horrible."

Another Gateway Plaza resident, who declined to give her name, said she didn't have to buy many extra supplies in advance of Hurricane Sandy, because ever since 9/11, she always keeps a cache of batteries, flashlights and bottled water on hand.

She considered going to a hotel but said it was too expensive, and she preferred to stay close to her many neighbors that remained in the building.

"It's scary for sure," the resident said, "but there's plenty of people here and we'll look out for each other — and hopefully stay safe."

With reporting by Chelsia Rose Marcius