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Hurricane Sandy Halts New York Transit, Leaves Many Streets Empty

Empty Grand Central Station

An empty Grand Central Station after the terminal was closed down for Hurricane Sandy. (Credit: Metropolitan Transportation Authority/Aaron Donovan)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Empty streets are a rare sight in New York City, but preparations for Hurricane Sandy left more than a few thoroughfares deserted in Manhattan Sunday night.

As CBS 2’s Elise Finch reported, mandatory evacuations in low-lying Zone A and the shutdown of all Metropolitan Transportation Authority service thinned crowds significantly.

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During the 11 p.m. hour, the winds were picking up and conditions were raw. And the increasing storm threat guaranteed that the streets would stay empty for quite some time.

Shortly after 7 p.m., the city’s subway trains completed their last trips of the day. People scrambled to catch the cars, but not everyone made it.

“I tried to get the last train, but I don’t think so,” said Sam Patel of Flushing, Queens. “It’s after 7 o’clock.”

“I need to go to Port Authority,” said Diana Fenritz. “I need to catch a bus.”

“I just ran down here from Port Authority to get her to run back to Port Authority, and I don’t know are the buses running?” said John Lewickyj.

At that time, the buses were running. Buses ran until just after 9 p.m. Sunday, and there were plenty of cabs. In fact, it seemed like there were more available cabs than potential passengers.

“The guys are out, the cars are out. People are not really out,” said cab driver

“I’m trying to work, but there’s no people on the street,” said cab driver Tariq Bashir.

The MTA also closed Grand Central Station and tweeted photos of the always-bustling terminal standing as empty as a ghost town.

Many streets were also quiet, especially in low lying areas of the city that were under mandatory evacuation orders. Cots were set up in shelters for New Yorkers who had to evacuate.

The Zone A evacuation area included:

• 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.
Residents who were forced to leave their homes came prepared.

“We packed, of course, clothes and emergency supplies, water. I have flashlights. I have toys, blankets for the kids, pillows, you know, accessories to keep them occupied,” said Amy Torres of Lower Manhattan.

People in shelters know they will have to keep themselves occupied for two to three days.

The Port Authority advised that all PATH service also has been suspended, and all public and private bus service from the Port Authority Bus Terminal was to shut down completely by 2 a.m. Monday.

Bridges and tunnels remained open, but could close depending on conditions. John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia international airports also remained open, but air carriers have ceased flights and the Port Authority has urged travelers not to go to the airports.

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