Some to stay through nor'easter to ward off thieves
NEW YORK — Richard Chan prowled around his cold, dark Staten Island home with knives and a sword to protect it from thieves, standing his ground as another East Coast storm threatened and police went through neighborhoods with loudspeakers warning people to get out.
“I still have some valuables. I just can't leave it,” he said Tuesday. “I just don't want to lose my stuff to some dirtbag.”
While city officials strongly encouraged storm-ravaged communities to seek higher ground before Wednesday's nor'easter, Chan was among a group who adamantly refused to leave, choosing to stick close to the belongings they have left.
Since the superstorm made landfall more than a week ago, killing 40 people in the city, more than 100 in 10 states and leaving millions without power, police said overall crime has actually gone down, not up. There are few reports of looting storm-damaged homes.
But Alex Ocasio wasn't convinced. The nursing home worker planned to ride out the latest storm in his first-floor Rockaway apartment — even after seeing cars float by his front door during Sandy.
As the water receded, men dressed in dark clothes broke down the door and were surprised to find him and other residents inside. “They tried to say they were rescue workers, then took off,” he said.
He put up a handmade sign — “Have gun. Will shoot U” — outside his apartment and started using a bed frame to barricade the door. He has gas, so he keeps the oven on and boils water to stay warm at night. “It gets a little humid, but it's not bad,” he said. “I'm staying. Nothing can be worse than what happened last week.”
In the Rockaways, one of the worst-hit areas, nightfall brings with it fears of looting, burglaries — even armed robberies. The idyllic seaside boardwalk was in ruins, streets were covered with sand and cars scattered like trash.
“You can't go there after dark anymore,” said 57-year-old construction worker William Gavin, pointing to a battered, lower-income section of his beachfront community. “It's a good way to get a gun pulled on you.”
Earlier this week, a retired police officer fired warning shots at someone trying to break into her home in the middle of the night, said Sean Kavanagh.
“I don't blame her,” said Kavanagh, also a retired officer. “I would have done the same.”
Kavanagh says he's staying home, in part to protect it. “I leave and anything can happen,” he said. “It's open season.”
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said it wasn't wise to stay put.
“I think your life is more important than property,” he said.
Kelly said police have arrested 123 people citywide since the storm blew in last week, 54 burglary arrests and 41 others stemming from gas line disputes. Police said the majority were in areas suffering from the storm.
“You would think, under the circumstances, you would see much more,” Kelly said. “We haven't seen that.”
Burglaries were up 6 percent citywide compared to the same period last year, but overall crime was down 27 percent, police said.
More than 1 million people remained without power on Tuesday, and forecasters said the nor'easter headed to the region on Wednesday could still bring 50 mph winds gusts to New York and New Jersey, an inch of rain and a storm surge of 3 feet.
“I know it's been a long, long eight days,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
The storm fallout didn't deter voters in the most battered areas, with heavy turnout in New York and New Jersey. Cuomo had given displaced New Yorkers the right to vote at any polling place in the state.
Willamae Cooper, 63, rode out Sandy in her apartment in the beachfront Dayton Towers complex in the Rockaways. By Tuesday, Cooper had seen enough. She decided to leave for her daughter's house on Staten Island, rather than have a front row seat to another storm.
“After that first one, God knows what could happen,” she said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Company backs away from pledge to cut drug’s $750-per-pill price
- VA Phoenix social worker on leave for Halloween costume
- Student dies in traditional Ohio State University lake jump
- N.H. prep grad to appeal sex assault verdict
- Obama signs $607B Defense bill but blasts GOP limits for Gitmo
- Video prompts calls for probe of Chicago police
- Ads for Nazi-themed show pulled from NYC subways
- U.S. troops suspended in airstrike on Afghan hospital
- ‘Crisis mode’ near at U.S.-Mexico line as nearly 5,000 children try to cross border in October
- Military Academy bans pillow fights; 30 hurt during last one
- U.S. has urged legal reforms abroad to block Islamic State recruits