NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Tri-State area dealt with another day of wet and dreary weather Friday but got some comfort as forecasters said the powerful Hurricane Joaquin would likely stay out at sea.
Many feared the dangerous Category 4 hurricane would give the rainstorms an added punch. But on Friday, National Hurricane Center director Rick Knabb said Joaquin was no longer expected to make a direct hit.
“The models have become much more in agreement and we are pretty confident the hurricane is going to pass well offshore of the East Coast of the U.S.,” Knabb said.
But that doesn’t mean the danger is over.
In New Jersey, the National Weather Service has issued coastal flood warnings and high wind warnings along the shore and the Delaware Bay through Sunday evening.
Coastal flood advisories are also in effect for New York City and for parts of Long Island and Westchester County.
Forecasters say gusts could reach 60 mph in some spots, knocking down limbs and power lines. Blowing sand could also cover roads in some areas. By Thursday evening, there were already reports of floods in some spots along the Jersey shore.
The certainty of additional damaging rains and floods in coming days prompted governors to declare states of emergency in Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
“Now is the time to hunker down and deal with the storm,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Thursday.
In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo activated the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Albany to monitor the weather.
Cuomo said the latest forecast seems to be good news, but “We still expect some local flooding if not serious coastal flooding.”
Streets and homes can still get walloped with rain and flooding associated with the hurricane even if it is 1,000 miles away, forecasters said. And because Joaquin can keep funneling tropical moisture into storm No. 1 from afar, even an out-to-sea Joaquin can worsen flooding.
“So we have currently 150 office of parks personnel constructing sand berms and other barriers to protect against flooding at Jones Beach, Robert Moses and Hither Hills State Park,” Director of State Operations Jim Malatras told WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb.
New York City and Nassau and Suffolk counties have also activated their severe weather and coastal flood plans.
“We want to have equipment in all of the boroughs,” said New York City OEM Commissioner Joseph Esposito. “Even if we put it in Staten Island or Queens or the Bronx, if we need something in that borough, we can get there faster.”
High winds and high surf have emergency crews working fast to build up dunes on Rockaway Beach.
“Mother Nature is boss in a situation like this,” Belle Harbor resident Dan Edwards told CBS2’s Meg Baker.
Against the sea wall are large white sand bags. As a precaution, city officials were also moving emergency supplies to higher ground in the Seaside section.
Resident Anthony DiCarlo is tracking the weather, but thinks the city is prepared.
“They’ve done their job through smaller storms,” he said.
He said the wall and protective dunes will keep them safe.
“Army Corp of Engineers put them in place, so hopefully they know what they are doing,” he said.
Residents believe the sea wall may help with smaller storms, but say it won’t do anything with a surge over five feet.
Erosion is also a major concern.
“All the money that they invest in pumping all this sand every year, I mean all that money could be invested into some kind of jetti out there to help us here,” said Danny Rashillo, who lives on Beach 123rd Street.
In Broad Channel, high tide brought Jamaica Bay into the streets, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.
Rich was watching the water rise from his home on West Eighth Street.
“We’re looking maybe we’re gonna be up to the third step,” he said. “A lot of us would like to raise our house, but you know, who could afford it after rebuilding from Sandy.”
At the Staten Island Ferry Terminal and in lower Manhattan, crews sealed the vents above the subway tunnels to prevent potential flood water damage. The MTA plans to cover 540 subway openings.
On Long Island, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said his biggest concerns are beach erosion and Fire Island, WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported.
“Fire Island is a national treasure and it is a place that’s home to a lot of volunteer firefighters, emergency officials and year-old residents,” he said.
Fire Island ferry schedules will be modified because of the weather and he said if the hurricane moves back toward the west, Montauk could get hit with tropical storm winds.
Ocean Beach Mayor Jim Mallot said Sandy decimated the dunes, their main source of protection.
“There’s not much to hold the ocean back here,” he said.
And after the weekend, there will likely be even less as the sea continues to swallow sand from the beaches.
Right now, no evacuations are planned. Bellone said in the next couple of weeks, the dunes will be restored, which will help protect Long Island.
Some residents were checking on their homes, making sure they were doing alright as ocean waves swelled higher and higher, CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock reported.
“Making sure everything’s OK, turning the gas off,” said John Postlee.
“This is going to be our first winter here and this is just the first taste of what we’re going to get,” said Melinda.
And it isn’t pretty. On the ocean side, waves were swelling to nearly 10 feet, pounding the shore over and over and over again.
Emergency workers advise that you stock-up on emergency supplies and take it seriously if you’re ordered to evacuate.
Meanwhile in Connecticut, emergency management officials say they’re still preparing for Joaquin, even though the storm is predicted to pass to the southeast of New England.
Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner Dora Schriro said Friday “we do not expect Joaquin to have a major impact on Connecticut,” but added, “we cannot let our guard down.”
In a conference call with reporters, Deputy Commissioner William Shea said the state has been in contact with federal officials and the state’s largest electric utility, Eversource.
The state’s debris removal contractor remains on standby in case the storm takes a different track.
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