Brace for it! Evacuations ordered as Hurricane Sandy nears

Sandbagging: Hundreds of pounds of sand protects this Manhattan Beach home from the coming surge.

Mayor Bloomberg has ordered a massive mandatory evacuation of Brooklyn’s low-lying areas as Hurricane Sandy barrels its way towards the city — giving residents in Coney Island, Seagate, Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach, Red Hook, and Greenpoint just a few hours to pack up and leave their homes.

The evacuation order could not have come at a worse time: the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has also announced that it will be suspending all bus and subway service beginning at 7 pm tonight.

The city’s Office of Emergency Management order came in at 11:45 am this morning, demanding that the more than 150,000 Brooklynites living in evacuation zone A leave immediately.

“If you live in these areas, you are required to leave ASAP, but no later than tonight,” the order stated.

BREAD LINES: If you were looking for a loaf of bread at the Key Food on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope at 3 pm on Sunday, you were out of luck.
Photo by Benjamin Muessig

It was unclear just how the city will enforce the order. When the order was given just before Hurricane Irene hit the area last year, the NYPD patrolled low lying areas in cars equipped with loudspeakers advising residents about the order. Those that didn’t wish to leave had to sign a form claiming that they were told of the potential danger, but opted to stay.

Bloomberg’s order means that everyone — and we mean everyone — who lives in flood-prone areas must leave. In Brooklyn, those areas include all of Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Seagate, Manhattan Beach, plus a swath of Sheepshead Bay streets bordered by West Street, Bedford Avenue, Emmons Avenue and Avenue X, as well as most of Red Hook and streets around the Gowanus Canal.

Homes along the Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Brooklyn Heights, Columbia Street and DUMBO waterfronts will also be evacuated.

The mayor recommended that residents bed down with friends and relatives in non-flood zones, but those who have no place to go can go to a number of borough public schools that will be drummed into service as emergency shelters. The list of shelters can be found here.

Borough public schools will be closed on Monday, the Mayor announced, adding that hospitals and senior centers in shorefront areas are already being evacuated.

High winds will precede Hurricane Sandy’s arrival, according to the National Weather Service, which has instituted a high wind warning beginning at 6 am on Monday. More than 70 mile-per-hour wind gusts are expected to hit the borough on Monday afternoon and evening. The storm is expected to make landfall at 2 am on Tuesday morning.

Check back with us throughout the day to learn more about the storm and evacuation procedures.

Reach Deputy Editor Thomas Tracy at ttracy@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2525.

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