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The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Monday the Category 1 storm had strengthened as it turned toward the coast and was moving at 15 mph. It was expected to bring a “life-threatening storm surge”, coastal hurricane winds and heavy snow in the Appalachian Mountains, the NHC said.
Nine states have declared states of emergency and President Barack Obama has warned the nation to brace itself.
“This is a serious and big storm,” Obama said after a briefing at the federal government’s storm response center in Washington. “We don’t yet know where it’s going to hit, where we’re going to see the biggest impacts.”
The storm is reminiscent of the 2011’s Hurricane Irene, another late-season cyclone that threatened the New York area. Impacts in New York City itself were minimal, but upstate communities took heavy damage. A Holocaust survivor from Brooklyn died in the Catskills when her chalet was washed away by flood waters. A 5-year-old Jewish boy also killed by down power lines in Rockland County, N.Y.
The worst of Hurricane Sandy isn’t expected to come until sometime late Monday. On the Upper West Side of Manhattan, residents were getting ready Sunday night. Lines to enter supermarkets there reportedly stretch around the block.
Sieradski said that he planned to head upstate once the wedding was over. “As soon as the curfew goes into effect we’re hightailing it out of New York with Sandy nipping at our heels,” he said.
In the ultra-Orthodox communities near Monsey in upstate New York, stores are swamped with anxious shoppers.
“Basically if you go to the gas stations you can think we are now in the 1973 embargo,” said Yossi Gestetner, an Orthodox political blogger who lives in Spring Valley, N.Y
“If you go a grocery you can think it’s a Friday afternoon, an hour before the store’s closing,” Gestetner said, referring to the pre-Shabbat rush.
“And the hardware stores make you think it’s erev Pesach,” Gestetner added, referring to the shopping season before the start of the Passover holiday.