New Yorkers Remember Sandy, Scramble for Supplies

By JIM FITZGERALD and KAREN MATTHEWS
|  Friday, Feb 8, 2013  |  Updated 8:32 PM EDT
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LIPA is expecting at least 100,000 customers to lose power during the storm. Pei-Sze Cheng reports.

NBC New York

LIPA is expecting at least 100,000 customers to lose power during the storm. Pei-Sze Cheng reports.

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It was a "routine blizzard" that was bearing down on them, not a superstorm, but New Yorkers couldn't help but think about Sandy in the face of a snow-laden nor'easter.

"I think it might even be worse than Sandy," said Chip Gomes, a construction worker who took shelter from the snow in a 7-Eleven in White Plains as he waited for a bus. "There's going to be flooding, right? I heard high winds. Plus, this time we got snow."

Indeed, there was snow. It started Friday morning and quickly caused problems with the first couple of inches, and another foot or so was predicted for parts of the metropolitan area and upstate by Saturday.

Track the storm here, and see live conditions in Times Square here and at the Top of the Rock here.

On Staten Island, at a tent shelter set up for Sandy victims still living without power, volunteers used tarps and a makeshift drain to keep the bad weather out. Manager Donna Graziano said she feared the new storm would keep her regulars away.

"A lot of residents don't have the means to cook anything," she said. "I'm sure for tonight they'll make arrangements, but it's heartbreaking to me because I hear their cries every day. I give them their hugs."

Forecasters and officials took pains to say the kind of damage that Sandy caused was not in the offing. State Director of Operations Howard Glaser said the storm was in some ways a "routine blizzard."

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said nothing like the October storm surge, which flooded parts of Manhattan, was expected. He stressed that no evacuations were being ordered.

"Sandy was a big storm that was devastating to a lot of people," the mayor said. "I don't think this storm is going to do that."

Nevertheless, in coastal areas of Queens and Long Island, not nearly recovered yet from last year's storm, memories were easily stirred.

"A little snow doesn't scare me," said Leeann Rivera, 43, stocking up at the only major grocery store still open in the Sandy-ravaged Far Rockaway section of Queens. "But if we were talking about the type of damage that Sandy did, I'd be gone. I would leave New York right now."

In Lindenhurst, Eddie Malone said he was frightened by the specter of more damage to his house, which has been under renovation since the October storm "wiped out" his first floor.

"I'm not afraid of the snow — instead, the sea surge, it may be 7 feet," said Malone. "I think Sandy was 12 or 13 feet, but 7 feet scares me. ... We had no power for two weeks and now I'm afraid we are going to lose it again."

In Lawrence, as he headed for a Sabbath service with two of his children, David Spira gestured to where the storm surge from Sandy reached the door of his house and said the new storm made him fearful.

"This is scarier than before Sandy," he said. "We're prepared — we have flashlights — but we're scared. But we're doing what we need to do, going to Shabbat.

Douglas Beman, 30, of Greenburgh, was thinking of Sandy — and the long gas lines that followed it — as he filled his Tahoe and a 5-gallon gas can at a Mobil station.

"Sandy taught me this lesson," he said. "Stock up on gasoline."

Bloomberg said the experience of the superstorm helped city workers mobilize and work together. He said they were out in force to protect the homeless and remove stalled vehicles from streets. Water rescue units were on standby in low-lying areas prone to flooding, just in case, he said.

"Everybody's gung-ho," he said. "We're ready for anything."

Consolidated Edison spokesman Alfonso Quiroz said the utility had added hundreds of workers from other companies and would have "an army or crews out there to make restorations."

He said the flooding that ravaged the power system during Sandy wasn't anticipated, but heavy snow was likely to take down some trees and the power lines near them, especially in Staten Island and Westchester.

Cuomo said about 3,000 people statewide had lost power by late afternoon.

National Grid, which took over storm preparations from the Long Island Power Authority after LIPA was lambasted for its Sandy problems, did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Meanwhile, the show went on at New York's Fashion Week, although designer Michael Kors was forced to arrive at the Project Runway show on Friday in Uggs.

"I came in looking like Pam Anderson," he joked backstage, after the offending boots had been traded for tasteful black leather.

Marc Jacobs postponed his Monday night show until Thursday, citing delivery problems, but for the most part the Fashion Week schedule was on course. Organizers arranged for more heat at the main venue at Lincoln Center and were considering extra layers of tenting outside.
 

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