It looks like this hurricane thing is really happening, or at the very least New Yorkers are going to have to spend the weekend living under hurricane rules. If, like Intel Noreen, you're sticking around but are a born non-worrier and so still don't own things like an umbrella, much less spare flashlights, consider reading this post as quickly as possible and sprinting for the exits.
Do I need to evacuate? Know your zone. The city has a helpful website where you can plug in your address and check whether evacuation is recommended. Zone A is the bad one, a little confusing for those of us raised to grub grades in these here United States, but there it is. The city is evacuating everyone in Zone A. If you're in Zone B, you might want to consider finding somewhere else to wait out the storm, even if you're doubtful that it's the Big One, because it's going to be a lot harder to make a game-time decision thanks to the transport shutdown.
Public Transit: Governor Cuomo has ordered the MTA to shut down transportation at noon tomorrow, and it probably won't be up until sometime Monday. This means subways, buses, Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad, and Access-A-Ride. PATH is also shutting down at noon. The Staten Island Ferry will be shut down if wind speeds top 46 mph, so it's not going to be the weekend to live out your ancient-mariner fantasies. If you're evacuating tonight, the MTA is making an exception to a rule we actually never knew it had: You can bring your pets on the subway if properly leashed, etc.
Cars: Don't think your wheels will make things easier: If wind speeds reach 60 mph, the New York State Thruway and the following bridges will be shut down: George Washington Bridge, Tappan Zee Bridge, all bridges operated by the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, and Hudson River bridges including Bear Mountain Bridge, Newburgh-Beacon, Mid-Hudson (Poughkeepsie), Kingston-Rhinecliff, and Rip Van Winkle (Catskill). If you want to leave, in other words, get going soon.However, taxis and livery cars will be making street pickups with reduced fares and group rides starting Saturday.
Supplies you need if you stay in the city: Even if you're not in a flood zone, you might lose power. So you'll want flashlights (Duane Reade is apparently already running low) and candles/matches as a backup. These are the official recommendations for what you should have on hand. You probably don't have a battery-operated radio yet, for instance, but if Internet and cell phone service go down, you'll curse yourself for not stopping by Radio Shack tonight. You may also want to grab canned foods, which sounds terribly survivalist, but really, cereal will get boring if everything in your fridge spoils. Also, perhaps take out some cash from an ATM, just in case. Go sooner rather than later for grocery essentials: This intrepid reporter can confirm that the (overrun) Trader Joe's Union Square Wine Store was a little low on its enjoyable $7.99 Reserve de L'Estey Medoc as of last evening, but that there appeared to be copious stores of a number of Charles Shaw varietals. The mayor's office is also recommending that you stay inside from 9 p.m. Saturday until (at least) 9 p.m. Sunday. So while that might be a chance to really make some headway in your Netflix queue, be sure to get whatever you need to amuse yourself that doesn't require electricity — hurricane boyfriend/girlfriend? — squared away as well by then.
What should I do about my windows?: Stay away from windows, and below the tenth floor of buildings, if possible. The higher up you go, the more of a chance there is that flying debris will shatter the glass. And while FEMA recommends plywood, officially, as the best hurricane window protection, that seems like overkill to us. FEMA also warns that tape won't prevent windows from breaking, but Intel's resident Floridians and Texans say that duct-taping Xs over windows is common practice during hurricanes back home. Do with that what you will. Definitely close them, though!
Air conditioners: Don't try to take our your wall unit says Mike Bloomberg. "If it's not loose or anything, you're probably better off just leaving it," he said in a press conference today, which sounds a little inexpert, as he phrased it, but we're sure he was briefed. Plus, sitting in an un-air-conditioned apartment sounds miserable, no matter what amusements you've procured for yourself. Also bring in anything you might have outside — patio furniture, grills, antennas, etc.
Utilities: If one of your utilities goes out and you need to reach someone for some reason other than to complain that you'd been planning on watching a Real Housewives marathon, the Public Service Commission has a toll-free number: 1-800-342-3377. There will probably be a long wait time, so again, if you've failed to line up suitably enjoyable companionship for the storm, consider pre-making a list of all the things you've been too busy to have a deep think about. You can contemplate your lonely existence in the dark while the wind howls.
Pets: If you evacuate do not, we repeat, do not leave your cuddly little companions at home — you will probably return home to a really pissed off kitty, damp dog, or worse. But be sure to check if your evacuation center is pet-friendly, a lot of them are not. The New York State Office of Emergency Management also recommends having a pet evacuation kit ready with seven days' worth of pet food and water, a roll of paper towels and bleach to clean up after them, as well as a cage (with liner) and litter.
Power Outages: If your power goes out, turn off all appliances and electric devices to keep the circuits from overloading. And don't go checking your freezer every 10 minutes to see if those chicken cutlets you had planned for Wednesday dinner are defrosting — every time you open the freezer door you speed up the thawing. Plus, a fully loaded freezer will keep food frozen for up to two days, so says Con Ed. And be sure to call the company's hotline (1-800-752-6633), as well as the police, if you see any downed power lines.
What you won't be doing: Did you plan to attend one of these events? Sorry. They're no longer happening.
The most important thing to do, though, is bookmark this post, which we'll be adding to all weekend with news on additional closures, recommendations, vital updates, and how many glasses of wine your Intel bloggers have collectively consumed.