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Zone A Ordered Evacuated, Public Schools Closed Monday

NYC Mayor Bloomberg: 'I Can't Stress Enough This Is For Your Own Safety'
Battery Park City

Sandbags are set up in front of a building in Battery Park City. (Credit: Peter Haskell/WCBS 880)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Sunday evening urged New Yorkers in Evacuation Zone A to heed the warnings and get out for the Hurricane Sandy “Frankenstorm.”

Speaking at a 4 p.m. news conference from Seward Park High School, at 350 Grand St. on the Lower East Side, Bloomberg said by 7 p.m., “If you live in Zone A, you must evacuate.” That zone covers low-lying areas that are prone to flooding across the five boroughs.

Zone A includes the following areas of New York City:

• Coney Island, Manhattan Beach and Red Hook and other areas along the East River in Brooklyn;
• All of the Rockaways, as well as Hamilton Beach and Broad Channel in Queens;
• Almost all of the coastline of Staten Island;
• City Island, a small patch of Throgg’s Neck, and another patch of the South Bronx in the Bronx;
• Battery Park City and stretches of the West Side waterfront and of the Lower East Side and East Village in Manhattan.

A total of 375,000 people live in Zone A alone.

“I can’t stress enough that this is for your own safety, and if you refuse to evacuate, you are putting not only yourself at risk, but also the first responders who would have to assist you in an emergency,” Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg previously warned residents who live in Zone A that all elevators in the zone will be shut down at 7 p.m. and urged residents to get to higher ground quickly, before subway and bus service is shut down.

“It is dangerous to drive when the winds get very high,” and it is particularly dangerous to drive over bridges, he said.

WEB EXTRA: Map Of Zone A

He called the storm “serious and dangerous.”

Addressing evacuees, Bloomberg said, “If you have friends or family you can stay with outside of Zone A, that’s your best option,” but if not, fully-staffed shelters are available.

Seward is one of 76 shelters that have been set up in public schools. New York City Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Bruno said the shelters have been set up to accommodate everyone’s needs.

All are pet-friendly and have baby supplies, as well as water and food. The Department of Education has stocked the shelters for the entire hurricane season, Bruno told CBS 2’s Elise Finch.

Nursing supplies, pet food, and cages are also available, Bruno said.

“We have a very broad array,” he said. “I’ve been all around the country, and no one does it like we do here.”

HURRICANE SANDY: Track Forecast | Severe Weather Guide |Traffic & Transit | Travel Guide

Listen Now: 1010 WINS | WCBS 880

Meanwhile, mass transit began shutting down, at 7 p.m. Sunday.

“We’ve got to take some preparations today,” Bloomberg told reporters Sunday morning.

In addition, Mayor Bloomberg announced all city schools have been closed for Monday. Alternate side of the street parking has also been suspended for Monday.

Watch Mayor Bloomberg’s News Conference:

The storm surge will be a few feet more than originally projected, Bloomberg said.

It is now anticipated to be six to 11 feet, which could deluge waterfront areas.

The worst of the storm will be Monday night, Bloomberg said. But he warned all residents to take precautions now before things get potentially dangerous.

But not everyone was in a hurry to leave. Residents of the area around Rockaway Beach were among those told by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to evacuate Sunday evening, but some elected to stay put and ride the storm out.

As CBS 2’s Jamie Yuccas reported, early Sunday evening, the surf was rising rapidly at Rockaway Beach. Sand breakers had been set up all along the beach to protect buildings and homes, and some residents were shoveling sand into plastic bags to bring to their own basements for protections.

Queens resident Kevin was one of many who defied the Zone A evacuation order. He said he has lived in the same place all his adult life, and he was not about to leave.

“I’ve been living down here like 40 years now, and I’ve stayed for every other storm. I’m staying for this one,” he said.

Kevin said he learned his lesson after Irene and has moved to higher ground.

“The last storm, I was very low and I got flooded out,” he said. “So I learned my lesson. I moved up a little higher.”

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But in Breezy Point, Queens, 75-plus-year resident Bob Esposito he had a bad feeling about the Frankenstorm.

“I think this one’s going to be worse,” he said. “I’ve been down here when they’ve had the ocean and the bay met during a hurricane. One was in ’57, one was in ’47.”

A warning siren began sounding, drowning out the wind from the top of a little shopping center.

“Everybody should leave,” he said. He agreed with Mayor Bloomberg’s sentiment that anyone who stays in an evacuation zone is being selfish.

“They are being selfish, because the people have to save the people down here who could be in jeopardy,” Esposito said. “They really will be.”

And in Breezy Point, Queens, 75-plus-year resident Bob Esposito he had a bad feeling about the Frankenstorm.

“I think this one’s going to be worse,” he said. “I’ve been down here when they’ve had the ocean and the bay met during a hurricane. One was in ’57, one was in ’47.”

A warning siren began sounding, drowning out the wind from the top of a little shopping center.

“Everybody should leave,” he said. He agreed with Mayor Bloomberg’s sentiment that anyone who stays in an evacuation zone is being selfish.

“They are being selfish, because the people have to save the people down here who could be in jeopardy,” Esposito said. “They really will be.”

But Kevin said he was trying to convince his wife and children to evacuate.

In Manhattan many were taking advance caution. In Battery Park City, some buildings were seen with sandbags set up at the door, or tape over the windows, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.

In Battery Park City Sunday night, the Hudson River looked less-than-threatening. Still, one resident, Diane, had seen enough to pack up and leave.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports

“I can already see that the water is coming up higher than it usually is at high tide,” she said.

She was worried about the elevator and water going out in her building, “because I don’t want to be stuck.”

But Judd Orr decided to stick it out.

“We’re just going to stay in and drink and do whatever we can inside if things go bad,” he said.

Battery Park City

Sandbags are set up in front of a building in Battery Park City. (Credit: Peter Haskell/WCBS 880)

On Sunday morning, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called on federal authorities to declare a state of emergency in New York to help speed funds to New York City and surrounding areas to facilitate cleanup activities in the wake of the storm.

Senator Schumer said that he was concerned about potential economic damage, in addition to the threat that Sandy poses to the well being of New Yorkers.

“If the surge occurs at this nine foot level at Battery Park City, eight to twelve feet in the Long Island sound, that could cause some real economic damage,” he said.

1010 WINS reporter Glenn Schuck reports…

Residents can call 311 for more information about shelters and evacuation rules.