City and state officials braced Sunday for a brutal beating by Hurricane Sandy, ordering all public transportation to shut down, city schools to shutter and all residents living low-lying neighborhoods to evacuate for higher ground.
Gov. Cuomo ordered the MTA to suspend all subway, bus and commuter rail service beginning Sunday evening and urged people to stay at home.
In addition, Mayor Bloomberg ordered all residents of flood-prone areas — known as Zone A — to evacuate their homes by Sunday afternoon, adding that all public schools would close Monday.
This is nothing to play with," said Cuomo. "This is nothing to take lightly.
"You want to stay at home, be prepared, enjoy the family, read a book," Cuomo added.
But such a luxury will not exist for the 375,000 people living in Brighton Beach, Battery Park, Broad Channel and other low-lying “Zone A” neighborhoods Bloomberg ordered evacuated by Sunday afternoon.
“I’m going home to my mother’s in Staten Island,” said Jeffrey Stainback as he loaded clothes and blankets into an SUV near his fourth-floor apartment at the Coney Island houses. Stainback, 27, said he’d also pack food and playpen for his wife and three kids while they waited out the perfect storm.
“The essentials,” he said.
The city has also set up 72 shelters across the city to house Zone A evacuees and their pets, but some neighborhood residents near the water said they’re staying put.
Ken Blevins/Wilmington Star-News via AP
Waves pound Carolina Beach pier in Carolina Beach, N.C., Saturday, Oct 27, 2012, as Hurricane Sandy churns in the Atlantic Ocean.
“I’m getting prepared and we are going to stick it out,” said Marilyn Harris, 63, whose Richards St. apartment is four blocks from the Red Hook, Brooklyn, waterfront.
High wind warnings will go into effect at 6 a.m. Monday morning and last through 6 p.m. Tuesday. Meanwhile, the National Weather Service has issued a coastal flood warning from 6 a.m. Monday to 3 p.m. Tuesday.
Amtrak announced Saturday that it would halt train service to parts of the East Coast, including trips between Washington and New York. Airlines have started adding Sunday flights out of New York in preparation for flight cancellations on Monday.
Meanwhile, Nassau and Suffolk county officials have urged residents of low-lying areas to evacuate. Officials have ordered a mandatory exodus from Fire Island.
Dozens of people wheeled suitcases and pet carriers off the Ocean Beach Ferry Terminal at Bay Shore, L.I.,just one hour before Fire Island’s mandatory 2 p.m. evacuation curfew.
Stephen Barcelo For The New York Daily News
Fire Island residents are evacuated.
Frazzled residents said the storm surge has already brought the ocean to the dunes and some roads are already a foot under water.
"When you get off the boat, it's 18 inches deep," said Ilene Patrick, 56, who owns two homes and a business on the island.
She had winterized her homes and boarded up the house closest to the ocean.
"We're off. There's nothing we can do now," she said.
Others were already preparing to come back to ruined homes.
"We actually kind of said little good byes to the house," said Dumbo, Brooklyn mom of two, Carolina Della Valle. "You just never really know."
Officials are also activating 1,100 National Guard members, 400 on Long Island and 200 in the city.
The state Department of Health is ordering that all adult nursing homes be staffed at 150 percent of standard levels and that staff is prepared to stay for 48 to 72 hours, the governor said.
Utility companies across the state will also be on standby to help with power outages.
"In a situation like this you prepare for the worst and hope for the best," Cuomo said.