Shore towns in New York and New Jersey ordered evacuations ahead of a nor’easter as thousands of blacked-out residents braced for the cold while snow fell over a region still recovering from Hurricane Sandy’s devastation.
Residents in communities from Toms River to Highlands, New Jersey, were told to leave threatened parts, according to website postings yesterday. On New York’s Long Island, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano ordered evacuations from flood or storm-surge zones. Islip officials directed people to leave Fire Island and waterfront neighborhoods. Airlines serving the metropolitan area canceled at least 1,700 flights.
Winds gusted to 60 miles (97 kilometers) an hour, driving rain, sleet and snow across the region. The nor’easter may bring a storm surge of as much as 4 feet (1.2 meters) to the New Jersey and Long Island shores, said Lauren Nash, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Upton, New York. As much as 9 inches of snow was forecast in New York’s northernmost suburbs.
“You’ve got to just look at this snow and say, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’” said Allison Robicelli, 31, who just reopened a wholesale bakery in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park that she and her husband, Matt, operate. They lost a week of sales and perishable inventory to Sandy’s floodwaters and blackouts, only to face a new battering from the arriving nor’easter.
By 5:30 p.m. yesterday, the storm had cut power to at least 60,000 Public Service Electric & Gas Co. customers in New Jersey, with more outages expected overnight, according to the utility’s website. More than 600,000 electricity customers in the region still were out from Sandy’s ravages Oct. 29, down from a peak of more than 8.5 million in 21 states.
As the latest storm’s heavy snow and winds brought down branches and trees, some of them weakened by Sandy, the Long Island Rail Road suspended all its commuter trains and shut off access to Manhattan’s Pennsylvania Station for about two hours late yesterday. The storm downed power lines and caused outages, leading to the suspension of service, according to Sam Zambuto, a spokesman for the system.
The nor’easter was forecast to drop as much as 5 inches of snow in New York City and surrounding areas, with winds gusting to as much as 45 miles an hour, according to the National Weather Service. As of 10 p.m., the agency had recorded almost 4 inches in Central Park, while more than 7 inches had fallen in Ridgefield, New Jersey, and parts of Nassau County, New York.
In the Jamaica Estates section of Queens, trees and branches weakened by Sandy came crashing down under the snow, joining dozens of others snapped by Sandy. Temperatures fell to near freezing.
United Continental Holdings Inc., the world’s biggest air carrier, and AMR Corp.’s American Airlines reported disruptions from the storm. Both carriers suspended most New York-area flights for 24 hours.
United said long-haul international service and flights to other domestic airports from New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport were continuing while others were halted there and at New York’s LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport at midday.
In suburban Nassau County, Mangano issued an evacuation order on Nov. 6 for low-lying areas exposed to storm surges, and urged residents to move to one of eight shelters. Flooding also may affect coastal areas from Delaware to Connecticut.
Long Beach, a Nassau County city of about 34,000 residents on an Atlantic barrier island, was of particular concern, Katie Grilli-Robles, a Mangano spokeswoman, said by telephone. The city was among the most-damaged as Sandy pushed waves across it, opening new channels to the bay separating it from Long Island.
“We’ll have more flooding because the dunes are gone,” said Mike Fagen, a city councilman. “Everything is gone.”
Though he referred to it as a “relatively minor” storm, Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned at a City Hall briefing yesterday that the “wet, slushy” snow may snap tree limbs, pulling down power lines and endangering motorists and pedestrians.
At high tide yesterday afternoon, no flooding occurred along city shores severely eroded by Sandy, Bloomberg said. He advised residents of storm-damaged seaside homes to seek shelter on higher ground as a precaution.
More than 600 patients as well as workers had been evacuated the evening before the storm hit from three city nursing homes and a health-care center in the affected areas, he said. The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
As snow began to fall yesterday, workers at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in the Rockaways section of Queens braced for residents seeking shelter. At least 35 patients were ready to be discharged yet had no place to go. Almost 90 of the 1,500 hospital employees live in the area. Many don’t have homes to return to because of Sandy and were staying put after 12-hour shifts.
Craig Matienzo, 34, an Arverne resident in the Rockaways, said he’d rather stay where he was than have burglars raid his house, as they did neighbors’ homes. He stood in freezing rain waiting for a grilled-cheese sandwich and tomato soup from a mobile food truck yesterday. A generator he borrowed from a church supplies some power. “We’re staying here and trying to make do,” he said.
Brett Eklund, whose Midland Beach home on Staten Island was flooded, said there wasn’t much to worry about from the new storm. He and his family have been blacked out since Sandy hit and the first floor of his home is ruined.
“What could it do to us that Sandy didn’t?” he said as he waited on a deserted corner for his 6-year-old daughter to arrive on a school bus. “I would rather stay in my house and be cold than bring my kids to a shelter.”
Sandy raked the region with winds reaching 100 miles an hour, and the Associated Press said it killed more than 100 people in the U.S. alone. Sandy drove ocean storm surges of more than 13 feet in some areas, inundating transit tunnels and underground utilities, destroying homes and chewing away protective natural barriers such as beaches.
Emergency workers had to suspend some recovery operations yesterday to prepare for the new storm, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate said on a conference call with reporters. About 295,000 Sandy survivors have signed up for aid from the agency, he said, and $286 million has been paid out.
The storms have taken a toll on Atlantic city’s casinos, already facing competition from the proliferation of gambling up and down the East Coast. At the Tropicana, as a cold drizzle fell outside early today, the casino floor was almost vacant, with card players gathered around a single table, a few dealers idling by, and long banks of slots visited by a few players.
“It’s been like that” since the casino reopened Nov. 3, said Elena Shiraeva, 25, a clerk in a toy and children’s clothing store in the casino. “There’s been no people, pretty much.”