As government officials in Hurricane Sandy's path prepare for the worst, many locals are bracing for a storm but predicting a dud.
Charles Cohen, a resident of Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn, which because of its proximity to the shore line falls into Zone A, an area that government officials have urged residents to evacuate, chose not to evacuate and will ride out the storm in his house. He thinks officials are sounding the alarm a bit too loud, lest they look like they were unprepared.
"The government is definitely over-preparing, but I understand why they have to. Ever since Hurricane Katrina there's been a feeling in the country that it's better to be safe than sorry and that there's no such thing as being too prepared. It's a little ridiculous to hear news reports warning people about all of these worst case scenario situations and to see people running around and stocking up on food and batteries as if they're going to be stuck in their houses for months, but again, the government doesn't want to be in a situation where people can point at them and say you didn't warn us, and the public doesn't want to be in a situation where they're thinking why didn't we listen? So for most people it's better to deal with the long lines and to over prepare even though a lot of people think the hurricane won't be as bad as the news is making it out to be."
Frieda Lubin described the atmosphere in Brooklyn today not as one of panic but rather as a feeling of anxiousness. "This hurricane can go either way," said Lubin. "There might just be a bit of water damage and some trees might get knocked down, or the city might lose power for a week, so people are preparing as best they can. The grocery stores are filled with people even though there's barely anything left on the shelves. Batteries, flashlights and canned goods are sold out basically everywhere and people are waiting on really long lines to buy whatever is left. There are also long lines at gas stations because the news is reporting that if power lines go down electricity can be out for as long as ten days."
Lubin also mentioned that she was speaking to a Jewish woman in a kosher grocery store. The woman mentioned that her cousin passed away Sunday and the family was told by the funeral home that the woman would not be able to be buried the next day, Monday, as is the Jewish custom, because of the hurricane.
As of 7 p.m. Sunday night, all public transportation in New York City will be shut down and classes for the following day have already been cancelled. As of press, New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg has not yet announced whether or not he plans to close bridges and tunnels in the city. Nursing homes and hospitals located in Zone A have been evacuated and local shelters in schools and community centers have been set up across the East Coast. The government warned those in Zone A to evacuate for fear of power outages and for fear that flooding will prevent emergency vehicles from being able to get down those streets.
That fear is reminiscent of the massive snowstorm that caught New York City and Mayor Bloomberg by surprise a few years ago, as unplowed streets left many residents stranded in their homes for days and prevented ambulances from reaching those who needed emergency help.
Florette Shaaya, who used to lived in Florida, a state that has had its fair share of major hurricanes, said people in New York aren't as equipped as Floridians to handle hurricanes, citing the structural flaws of many of the buildings and homes in New York, which are not reinforced to handle heavy rain and strong winds.
She gave a few tips for withstanding the storm. She advises giving young children a small amount of Benadryl, which causes drowsiness, to ensure that they can sleep through the loud, howling winds that accompany a hurricane. She also said that those who have a spare refrigerator or freezer should stock it with food in case there are power outages and should be sure not open it unless all of the food in the first refrigerator has been used, as every time the refrigerator door is opened cold air escapes.
"Everyone is hoping this storm is going to be all hype," said Alessandra Shaaya, who lives in Manhattan. "But looking around today and seeing so many people running around and stocking up, you can tell that people might be thinking it's all hype but they're still preparing for something big."