By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge may drive tides to record levels in New York City Monday night, forecasters warned, as the epic storm churns towards expected landfall on the Jersey Shore.
Storm surge, a mound of water driven towards the shore, could cause unprecedented and “life threatening” flooding to vulnerable areas, according to the National Weather Service.
Tides have the potential to reach 6 to 11 ft above normal levels in parts of New York Harbor Monday night into Tuesday morning. Breaking waves could build to 15 to 20 ft along ocean-facing shorelines. The destructive waves on top of the storm surge could cause “significant damage to coastal structures nearest to sea level,” depending upon the timing of the storm, according to the National Weather Service.
Louis Uccellini, environmental prediction chief for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told The Associated Press that given Sandy’s expected landfall in New Jersey, the worst of the storm surge would take place in New York City, Long Island and northern New Jersey – “the worst case scenario.”
Besides coastal flooding, the powerful hybrid storm – part hurricane and part nor’easter – is expected to result in powerful winds, downed power lines and power outages spreading across as many as 10 states. The National Weather Service warns that winds affecting the upper floors of high rise buildings will be significantly stronger than those near ground level.
New York City issued a mandatory evacuation on Sunday for residents and businesses in low-lying (Zone A) areas, including Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Red Hook, and parts of Gowanus, DUMBO and Williamsburg in Brooklyn. Areas near the East River or Long Island Sound are at particular risk.
NYPD officers canvassed the streets with bullhorns in Zone A neighborhoods, warning residents to leave. The city shut off hot water and power at public housing developments in Zone A, and provided buses to 76 shelters set up in public schools across the city. Not all residents chose to re-locate, however.
"If you don't evacuate, you are not only endangering your life, you are also endangering the lives of the first responders who are going in to rescue you," Mayor Bloomberg said at a news conference on Sunday.
The city’s mass transit system was shut down Sunday evening. Schools, parks and libraries are closed Monday and alternate side parking has been cancelled. Senior centers will be closed early on Monday and will remain closed on Tuesday.
The Coast Guard closed New York Harbor Sunday night, and all cruise ships originally scheduled for arrival Monday and Tuesday have been diverted. East River Ferry Service has been suspended.
Over the weekend Brooklynites stripped store shelves of bread, bottled water, tape, peanut butter and canned food. Long lines formed at Gristedes Supermarket, Peas and Pickles Market and CVS in north Brooklyn Heights, while Trader Joe’s in Cobble Hill was so crowded workers had to limit the number of shoppers in the store at one time. By late Sunday, hardware and drug stores had sold out their entire stocks of flashlights and batteries.
Meanwhile, comedian Jimmy Kimmel says that despite the hurricane, he's still planning to film his late night show (with an all-star lineup including Chris Rock, Kelly Ripa, Tracy Morgan, David Letterman, Stephen Colbert and more) at the Brooklyn Academy of Music starting Oct. 29. According to Aceshowbiz and other sites, the late night talk show will be bringing in power generators in case of power failure.
Kimmel remarked on Twitter yesterday, “Starting to get windy here in #Brooklyn...I hope our shows don't fly away.”