Borough stalwarts who would rather face Hurricane Sandy in their own home instead of a shelter are thumbing their noses at Mayor Bloomberg’s mandatory evacuation order for low-lying areas — banking on the belief that the city won’t be able to conduct a door-to-door sweep of shorefront neighborhoods.
From Brighton Beach to Manhattan Beach, residents told this paper that they weren’t planning to heed the Mayor’s demands to leave flood-prone areas as Hurricane Sandy — and the 75 mile-per-hour winds expected to come with it — barrels toward the borough.
“I’m not moving,” said Community Board 15 chairwoman and Manhattan Beach resident Teresa Scavo. “They tell you it’s a mandatory evacuation, but they do not have the resources to knock on your door and tell you to get out.”
Scavo is just one of several residents who said they weren’t leaving the evacuation zone.
In Brighton Beach, high-rise apartment building residents said they plan to wait out the hurricane — dubbed the Frankenstorm since it’s so close to Halloween — at home since they’ve already weathered Hurricane Irene and the Halloween Nor’Easter of 1991 called “The Perfect Storm.”
“You think we never had a storm surge before?” asked Brighton Beach activist Ida Sanoff, who is refusing to leave her building. “I would have to see 10 feet of water coming down my block to think of leaving.”
Sanoff said she and her neighbors were filling up containers with water to prepare for power outages, cracking windows to avoid dangerous indoor-outdoor pressure changes, and keeping an eye on the elderly.
“This is a time when New Yorkers pull together, and we’re all hunkering down here,” said Sanoff. “Our primary concern is that we’ll lose power and not have water, or the windows will break.”
But power outages are a very real possibility — and Hurricane Sandy may have nothing to do with it.
Councilman Domenic Recchia (D–Coney Island) said the city plans to cut elevator power and all utilities to public housing complexes in the evacuation zone.
“Many people do not feel comfortable leaving their homes, and I’m trying to explain to them that they need to go to a shelter because they going to have no hot water or elevators,” he said.
Other elected officials said all of the hype surrounding the anti-climactic Hurricane Irene may hurt this year’s evacuation.
“Almost everyone evacuated last year, but because nothing really happened, it’s become much more difficult to convince people they have to go,” said Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny (D–Coney Island) “But it’s simple. A very, very bad storm is coming, and people need to go to a shelter.”
Borough President Markowitz wholeheartedly agreed with Brook-Krasny’s assessment.
“Forecasters expect Sandy to have more far-reaching impacts than we experienced last year with Irene,” Markowitz said in a statement. “Brooklynites are tough but it’s also important to use common sense and err on the side of caution.”
Bloomberg ordered residents in flood-prone areas to evacuate just before noon on Sunday, giving the more than 150,000 Brooklynites living in Coney Island, Seagate, Manhattan Beach, and Brighton Beach as well as homes in Sheepshead Bay, Red Hook, Gowanus, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Brooklyn Heights, Columbia Street, and DUMBO waterfronts 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 suspended all bus and subway service beginning at 7 pm last night.
Bloomberg said he wanted to protect both residents and first responders from anticipated storm surges.
“If you don’t evacuate you’re not only putting your own life in danger, but you are also endangering the lives of the first responders who will have to come in and rescue you,” Bloomberg said at Sunday’s press conference. “There’s no reason to have extra risks because some people said, ‘Well I’ll wait it out’ then later on changed their mind.”
The mayor recommended that residents bed down with friends and relatives in non-flood zones, but those who have no place to go can stay at a number of borough public schools that will be drummed into service as emergency shelters, the two closest being at Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School on 20th Avenue between 57th and 59th streets in Borough Park and at I.S. 187 on 65th Street between 11th and 12th avenues in Dyker Heights. A full list of shelters can be found here.
High wind gusts are expected to hit the borough this 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.
— with Colin Mixson and Will Bredderman
Reach Deputy Editor Thomas Tracy at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2525.