City residents are bracing themselves for Sandy's Monday approach after a mandatory evacuation order was issued Sunday for city residents in low-lying areas in the five boroughs.
The worst from the storm is expected to hit the New York City area from noon Monday to noon Tuesday. Winds are expected to be a bigger concern than rain, with gusts that could hit 70 miles per hour during the worst of the storm. Storm surges could be between six to 11 feet above normal.
The evacuation order was issued for the city's Zone A, which is home to about 300,000 residents.
Affected neighborhoods include:
Manhattan: Battery Park City, Chelsea, Clinton, East Village, Financial District, Governors Island, Kips Bay, Lincoln Square, Lower East Side, West Village waterfront. Yorkville.
Bronx: City Island, Harding Park, Pelham Bay, Throgs Neck, University Heights.
Brooklyn: Brighton Beach, Brooklyn Heights, Coney Island, DUMBO, Gowanus, Homecrest, Manhattan Beach, Red Hook, Sea Gate, Vinegar Hill.
Queens: Arverne, Baywater, Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Hamilton Beach, Hammels, Hunters Point, Neponsit, Rockaway Park, Roxbury, Seaside.
Staten Island: Bloomfield, Clifton, Fresh Kills, Great Kills Park, Howland Hook, Huguenot Beach, Livingston, Midland Beach, New Dorp Beach, Oakwood Beach, Old Place, Port Ivory, Port Mobil, Port Richmond, St. George, South Beach, Stapleton, Tompkinsville, Tottenville Beach.
These low-lying areas are at the highest risk for flooding and most vulnerable to storm surges.
The mayor said it is absolutely crucial for residents there to move to a safer location for both their safety and the safety of others.
Police say remaining residents can be charged with a misdemeanor if they're caught within the zone.
The mayor has said he wouldn't force residents to leave but said they're putting their lives and the lives of others at risk.
"The biggest fear is that people don't leave, and in retrospect, they should have, they call an emergency and some of our emergency workers lose their lives trying to save others needlessly," Bloomberg said. "If people had done what we'd asked them to do originally, that wouldn't have happened."
The city is extending assistance to anyone who cannot leave or stay with family and friends.
Shelters are open in 72 public schools across the five boroughs. Those who need transportation can call 311.
The New York City Office of Emergency Management said that approximately 1,335 residents were staying in shelters as of 3 a.m. Monday.
Residents who live in a NYCHA building in Zone A will not have elevator service during the storm. Heat and hot water has also been shut off in these buildings.
"If electricity goes out, the elevators will stop and people could be trapped in them, and the heat and hot water, it's all the electrical controls for that," Bloomberg said. "So we're just trying to prepare. And they're not necessary. You can use the stairs. We'll help you if you cannot use the stairs. And heat and hot water, we'd like you to evacuate and come to the shelters or go to friends."
Buses were provided to shuttle people to shelters. In Coney Island, buses left New York City Housing Authority developments at around 9:30 p.m. Sunday.
President Barack Obama has signed an emergency declaration for New York State. Effective immediately, the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA will begin coordinating the state's disaster relief efforts.
Earlier in the day, the president visited the national office of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington, D.C. to get a first-hand look at preparations for Sandy.
FEMA is deploying federal resources and teams to states across the East Coast.
The president warns New Yorkers could feel Sandy's impact long after it has left the state.
"We anticipate that this storm is going to be slow-moving. That means that it may take a long time not only to clear, but also to get, for example, the power companies back in to clear trees and to put things back in place so that folks can start moving back home," the president said.
Meanwhile, all the city's public and charter schools will be closed Monday while senior centers will also close on Monday and Tuesday.
All subway and train service is now suspended in the city.