Mayor Bloomberg Tours LES Shelter; 90 Residents There

The mayor and many local elected and community leaders are gathered at the city’s storm shelter inside Seward Park High School for an update on Hurricane Sandy preparations.

We’re at Seward Park High School on Grand Street, where local leaders are giving a briefing on the status of the city’s preparation for Hurricane Sandy. Earlier this afternoon, Mayor Mike Bloomberg toured the accommodations, where about 90 local residents have already sought shelter.

Residents in Zone A, which in the Lower East Side mostly affects buildings closest to the East River, are under a mandatory evacuation order by 7 p.m. Power to city-owned housing in the evacuation zone will be cut off at that hour. In all, there are 26 city housing developments in Zone A, and only about 60 percent of those residents evacuated last year during Hurricane Irene, Bloomberg said. NYPD officers armed with bullhorns and leaflets in three languages are on site at those developments now, urging residents to take adavantage of the school buses lined up to transport them to higher ground.

Hurricane Irene; Reporting Inside Seward Park Shelter

After days of watching and waiting, we’re about to find out how much punch Hurricane Irene is going to pack in New York City.   As you probably know just by looking out your window, the rain and winds have picked up quite a bit.  By midnight, forecasters say, the winds will be strong enough to take down power lines.  The most severe conditions should be felt between 6 and 10 tomorrow morning, when winds could exceed 70 mph.

Here on the Lower East Side, the shelter at Seward Park High School is filled to capacity. NY1 reporter Lindsey Christ has been reporting from inside the high school for several hours. About an hour ago she noted that Diane Sawyer had arrived. A sampling from Christ’s twitter feed:

Lower East Side NYCHA residents say the city did an incredible job getting them here. Margarita Gonzalez, 65, “And really fancy buses too!”

Diana Correa, 40, “I came here because of my baby, to get her out and keep her safe…

“…but also, I have a disability, and I wouldn’t want to get stuck on 11th floor and have my family not want to leave because of me.”

Residents in LES’s Zone A Urged to Evacuate by 5 p.m.

School buses pressed into service to transport evacuees line Grand and Essex streets, where they deposited residents sheltering at Seward Park High School.

Public officials are reiterating the evacuation order for residents in Zone A, the low-lying areas closest to Manhattan’s waterways. Staffers from Assemblymember Brian Kavanaugh’s office just sent us this flyer:

Campos, Riis, Wald, Baruch, Smith, Haven Plaza, Village East


New York City says you MUST leave the area for your safety by 5:00PM Saturday before the hurricane hits!

  • If you can, please go stay with friends or family outside the neighborhood.
  • Or go for emergency shelter if you have no other options: Baruch College, 55 Lexington Avenue at24th Street, or Seward Park High School, 350 Grand St between Ludlow & Essex
  • If you need transportation to the centers, buses will be available on a first come, first serve basis starting at 8AM Saturday from departure points in the area.
  • The MTA will begin shutting down all mass transit by Saturday at noon, so please leave as early as possible. Bridges and tunnels may also be closed.
  • Take a “go bag” with these items if you have them: extra keys, credit/ATM cards as well as cash, bottled water, nonperishable foods, flashlight, battery-operated radio, first aid kit, important documents (photo ID, proof of address, insurance cards).

 For more information, call 311 or visit


Volunteers Needed at Seward Park Emergency Shelter

We have just received a plea from Mayor Bloomberg’s office, via Community Board 3’s Susan Stetzer, asking for help staffing the shelter at Seward Park High School at 350 Grand St., the primary emergency housing for lower Manhattan flood zone evacuees.

Here’s the note from Leland Dyer of the Community Affairs office:  

The Mayor’s Office is looking for volunteers to staff the evacuation/hurricane centers at Seward Park HS and Baruch College. We are asking for any willing volunteers that live in these areas to please help out if they can. Any hours today would be greatly appreciated. Overnight staffers are particularly important. Please have anyone interested in helping us during this difficult time to contact me at 347-844-3309 or via email at LDYER@CITYHALL.NYC.GOV


Lower East Side Storm Watch 11:20 a.m.


The Seward Park High School evacuation center and emergency shelter is now seeing some activity. A number of residents have checked in. News crews are awaiting a facility tour from mayor’s office.

Storm Watch Saturday: Scenes Around the LES

The outer bands of Hurricane Irene provided a backdrop for a parade of pleasure boats and other watercraft that motored downstream on the East River this morning.

The rain began to spatter around 10 a.m., as Lower East Side residents and businesses braced for Hurricane Irene’s impact. The storm made landfall near Point Lookout, N.C. this morning, and began churning up the East Coast.

Along the East River on the Lower East Side, joggers and bicyclists squeezed in one last run or ride. A handful of fishermen tried their luck while a parade of pleasure boats sailed downriver at a brisk clip, presumably for the safety of dry docks.

Click through for more photos, and we’d love to post pictures from readers; email them to us at

Reporters and camera crews from a German television station, the Associated Press and other media hovered outside the shelter at Seward Park High School this morning, waiting for news and interviewing one shelter worker sporting a large backpack, who said he was a city school teacher and had come to work for the duration of the storm.