Hurricane Irene is whirling its way up the East Coast, destined for an intimate date with New York City late Saturday and into Sunday (the worst of the storm is expected to hit between about 7 a.m. and noon on Sunday), and frankly most of us aren’t very prepared.
So let’s get prepared. We all know what an Upper West Sider’s first priority is, so we’ll start with food.
There was a mad rush at Fairway for staple foods late on Friday. By 8:30 p.m., there wasn’t a single piece of bread in the store — not a single bag of sliced bread, not even one of Fairway’s so-so bagels — except for one sad bag of pita bread. There were also no bananas, and those butter cookies with chocolate on top that I like were pretty much gone too (I have a box and will sell it for $100). Bananas were also in short supply at Trader Joe’s. (Food is no joke in this neighborhood. We have shown that we are willing to punch each other over packages of vegan pad thai.)
Update: Fairway was scheduled to close at 10 a.m. on Saturday, but Zabar’s was still going strong in the afternoon and planned to stay open as long as possible. Barney Greengrass, the famous smoked fish emporium on 87th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, ran out of bagels and bialys by mid-afternoon. Lots of bodegas appeared to braving the storm. Westsider Books was also open, according to @reporterleslie. Whole Foods stayed open late on Friday, but had closed by Saturday afternoon and will stay closed through the weekend.
The Upper West Side is thankfully on higher ground for the most part, so the flooding risk is pretty minimal. The very small area within the evacuation zone is at the South end of the neighborhood and is classified as Zone B, which as of Friday afternoon hadn’t been evacuated. In fact, according to the evacuation map, the only buildings on the Upper West Side that are in an evacuation area are the luxury high-rises off of Riverside Boulevard overlooking the Hudson — the Trump buildings.
The MTA will begin shutting down service at noon on Saturday, and any event located in a park is probably canceled. The list of canceled events in Central Park is here. Also, the Apple Store is closed, so you really have no choice but to stay inside.
- Once the rain and wind starts, everyone should stay inside and away from the windows. The Office of Emergency management also says to stay below the 10th floor if you live in a high-rise and tape the windows with an X (that 10th floor thing seems strange to me. What if you live on the 15th floor? Should you sleep at your neighbor’s place? Also, I’ve heard mixed things about the X, and it’s not included in the official OEM guide).
- The power could go out, so have a flashlight or two on hand, and fill the bathtub with water in case power goes out, the water shuts off and you’re left without water to flush the toilet.
- Bring in all of the stuff from your porch — you’ve been meaning to do that anyway.
- Turn the fridge and the freezer to the coldest settings so if the power goes out the food will last longer.
- Turn off small appliances or propane tanks.
- Pack a go bag. According to the city, it should have: Copies of your important documents in a waterproof and portable container (insurance cards, photo IDs, proof of address, etc.); Extra set of car and house keys; Copies of credit/ATM cards and $50-$100 cash in small denominations; Bottled water and nonperishable food such as energy or granola bars; Flashlight Battery-operated AM/FM radio and extra batteries; Up-to-date medication information and other essential personal items (Keep a list of the medications each member of your household takes, why they take them, and their dosages. Also include all doctors’ names and phone numbers); First aid kit; Contact and meeting place information for your household and a small regional map; Child care supplies or other special care items.
If things get really bad, there are four evacuation centers in and around the Upper West Side:
2. Brandeis High School: 84th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenue.
3. Joan of Arc Junior High School: 154 West 93rd Street.
4. IS 88: 215 West 114th Street.
And when it’s all over, as our Aging in Action columnist Harriet reminds me, be sure to check in on your elderly neighbors. Stay safe! And keep us informed if you hear anything. We’ll update this post if we learn more.