Hurricane Sandy threat launches mass evacuations on East Coast

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In Muncy Valley in northern Pennsylvania, Rich Fry learned his lesson from last year, when Tropical Storm Lee inundated his Katie’s Country Store.

In between helping customers picking up necessities Saturday, Fry was moving materials above the flood line. Fry said he was still trying to recover from the losses of last year’s storm, when he estimates he lost $35,000 in merchandise.

“It will take a lot of years to cover that,” he said.

Christie’s emergency declaration will force the shutdown of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos for only the fourth time in the 34-year history of legalized gambling here. The approach of Hurricane Irene shut down the casinos for three days last August.

Atlantic City officials said they would begin evacuating the gambling hub’s 30,000 residents at noon Sunday, busing them to mainland shelters and schools.

Tom Foley, Atlantic City’s emergency management director, recalled the March 1962 storm when the ocean and the bay met in the center of the city.

“This is predicted to get that bad,” he said.

Eighty-five-year-old former sailor Ray Leonard said if he had loved ones living in the projected landfall area, he would tell them to leave. Leonard knows to heed the warnings.

He and two crewmates in his 32-foot sailboat, Satori, rode out 1991’s infamous “perfect storm,” made famous by the Sebastian Junger bestseller of the same name, before being plucked from the Atlantic off Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., by a Coast Guard helicopter.

“Don’t be rash,” Leonard said in a telephone interview Saturday from his home in Fort Myers, Fla. “Because if this does hit, you’re going to lose all those little things you’ve spent the last 20 years feeling good about.”

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Breed reported from Raleigh, N.C. Contributing to this report were AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein in Washington; Emery Dalesio in Kill Devil Hills, N.C.; Karen Matthews in New York; Glenn Adams in Augusta, Maine; Randall Chase in Lewes, Del.; Rodrique Ngowi in Boston; Ron Todt in Philadelphia and Nancy Benac in Washington.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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