Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

NYC empties ahead of Hurricane Irene

A lone taxi drives down a west side highway on Saturday in New York. About 370,000 residents living in low-lying areas evacuated as the region girded for wind and rain. New Yorkers waited in long lines to buy batteries, bread and hamburger meat.

Associated Press

A lone taxi drives down a west side highway on Saturday in New York. About 370,000 residents living in low-lying areas evacuated as the region girded for wind and rain. New Yorkers waited in long lines to buy batteries, bread and hamburger meat.

NEW YORK — By late Saturday, New York just wasn't itself anymore.

All 25,000 garbage cans were turned upside and shoved against buildings. The subways and buses were idle. Theaters, parks and airport departure gates were closed. Even a Starbucks on Madison Avenue didn't open.

And if you had a D battery, you could name your price.

As Irene barreled toward New York, it was as quiet as a Christmas morning — only scarier.

Presented with a potential disaster that afforded some prep time, New Yorkers took full advantage of two days of warnings and unprecedented orders. Many of the 370,000 residents living in low-lying areas did as they were told and evacuated. And, knowing the mass transit system would grind to halt starting at noon, people got where they had to go.

Throughout the day, city officials continued to emphasize the big fears: High winds that would knock out windows and topple trees, and water surges that threatened to submerge lower Manhattan and shut down Wall Street into this week.

Con Ed officials said they had already shut off certain steam pipes in the Wall Street area Saturday, and if the East River breached its banks and saltwater seeped into equipment, they would power down completely, which would affect 6,500 customers.

A spokesman for the utility said if that happened "it would be a couple of days" before the company could turn back on the power. The New York Stock Exchange has backup generators and can run on its own, a spokesman told the Associated Press.

The prospect of no power and other problems raised by Mayor Michael Bloomberg had New Yorkers waiting in long lines outside grocery stores to buy everything from batteries to bread and hamburger meat.

Yvonne McKenzie recognized familiar warnings from her native Jamaica, where she experienced many hurricanes, so she fled to a Brooklyn college being used as an evacuation center, one of 91 set up by the city.

As she settled down on one of about 180 blue cots set up in the gym, McKenzie explained that she had left her home in Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood because she couldn't get out of her mind the waterfront just down the street.

"I figured, 'Let me escape while I can,' " McKenzie said. "I'm not alarmed. I'm not afraid. But I didn't want to be flooded out."

In Times Square, normally bustling on a Saturday afternoon in advance of Broadway matinees, theatergoers were left to wander the streets in search of something to do.

Sebastian Tribbie, a young representative of the "Ha!" comedy club, sold 200 tickets by 4 p.m. for an evening performance — about quadruple what he'd normally sells, he said.

"My pitch is just 'We're open and we have alcohol,' " he said, laughing. "I mean, it's that's easy. There's literally nothing else open."

Even the Naked Cowboy, who stands at the Crossroads of the World wearing only underwear and a guitar, was prepared.

He had added a life vest.

NYC empties ahead of Hurricane Irene 08/27/11 [Last modified: Saturday, August 27, 2011 10:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Los Angeles Times.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. James Wilder Jr. back at running Canada


    Remember when former Plant High star and Florida State running back James Wilder Jr. announced he was switching to linebacker?

    That was short-lived, apparently.

  2. Unlicensed contractor accused of faking death triggers policy change at Pinellas construction licensing board

    Local Government

    The unlicensed contractor accused of faking his death to avoid angry homeowners has triggered an immediate change in policy at the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board.

    Last year Glenn and Judith Holland said they paid a contractor thousands of dollars to renovate their future retirement home in Seminole. But when they tried to move in on Dec. 14, they said the home was in shambles and uninhabitable. They sent a text message to contractor Marc Anthony Perez at 12:36 p.m. looking for answers. Fourteen minutes later, they got back this text: "This is Marc's daughter, dad passed away on the 7th of December in a car accident. Sorry." Turns out Perez was still alive. Now the Hollands are suing him in Pinellas-Pasco circuit court. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  3. What you need to know for Tuesday, June 27


    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Former St. Petersburg mayor and current mayoral candidate Rick Baker, left, and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman square off tonight in a debate. [Times]
  4. Once 'angry' about Obamacare, Republican David Jolly came to see it as 'safety net'


    Former Congressman David Jolly, who ran against Obamacare in 2013, said in an interview Monday night that he now considers it a "safety net."

  5. Five children hospitalized after chlorine release at Tampa pool store


    Five children were sickened at a pool store north of Tampa on Monday after a cloud of chlorine was released, according to Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.