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Residents, Tourists Look to Escape NYC After Hurricane Sandy

MIDTOWN — Amid the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy Tuesday, some residents and tourists decided to flee the city in search of shelter, electricity and open airports.

Roughly 50 people stood in line at a Hertz rental car facility on West 55th Street late Tuesday, many of whom had been there for more than an hour waiting for vehicles to become available.

Their collective hope was to escape a city that has been crippled by widespread power outages and a non-functioning public transportation system.

Mairi McPhee, 29, said she was supposed to meet friends in Las Vegas to celebrate her 30th birthday, but her flight out of LaGuardia was cancelled when the airport was shut down Monday.

McPhee said she now plans to drive to Boston and catch a flight from there.

“This birthday has turned into more of an adventure than I expected,” said McPhee, who had been waiting in line for about an hour Tuesday.

Shore Smith, who lives Downtown and has been without power for nearly 24 hours, said he is driving upstate to stay with a friend.

“I need to get some work done, and it’s a good excuse to get out of the city,” said Smith, who had been waiting about an hour-and-a-half for a car, despite having a reservation.

Brenda Harris came to New York on vacation with her husband and two children, ages 6 and 7. Harris said the storm forced them to evacuated from the Marriott Hotel in Battery Park City and move to another Marriott further uptown. Their flights had been cancelled, and now they are planning to drive 11 hours back down to North Carolina.

“Maybe we picked the worst time for a New York vacation,” Harris said.

Despite the long waits, the mood stayed relatively convivial as residents and tourists commiserated, traded jokes and mingled with some of the four-legged evacuees who were heading out of town with their owners in search of dog-friendly accommodations.

Rebecca Roman, 29, was forced to evacuate her TriBeCa apartment with her dog, Ignatius, a 175-pound Great Dane too big to be housed even temporarily at her friends' apartments.

“I don't know where I'm going, but he's too big to stay here,” Roman said. “He's calm. We can put him in a compact rental and find a place to stay with family outside the city."