Why Some Residents Ignored The Mandatory Evacuation Edict

Police cars and vans with speakers announced, throughout Monday morning, that New York City was under mandatory evacuation orders. This, however, did not keep many residents from deciding to hunker down inside their own homes and ignore the evacuation order that applied to some 375,000 people living in the low-lying areas.

According to NBC News, Annie Chambliss and Laz Benitez took their dog, Kallon, on one last walk at midmorning before taping up their windows and hunkering down inside their lower Manhattan apartment that overlooked the Hudson River.

A block away, Claire Wladis and Nicholas Rennie were doing the same thing with their 21-month-old daughter, Iliana, in their 15th-floor flat.

“We sort of decided it would probably be safer just to stay where we are,” said Wladis, 34, a university math professor, stating that her family lived in different states that were expected to fare even worse during the storm. “We are not that high up and there’s an internal hallway, so we figured if the winds got strong we’d just pull a mattress out there and camp out.”

About 3,000 residents sought refuge within the city emergency shelters. However, many were probably staying at hotels or with friends or family.

Wladis and Rennie also stated that having a young child figured into their decision on staying in their home.

“I actually feel safer being able to go into internal hallways … than say being in a shelter where she’s maybe not sleeping and I’m chasing her around,” said Rennie, a 45-year old literature professor.

They thought that they would be well-prepared for what could be a lengthy stay inside. They stocked up on five days’ worth of nonperishable foods, bought a tarp, flashlights and candles. They also filled the bathtub full of water, moved computers and other valuable objects away from the windows, and they fully charged their laptops and computer tablets. And in case they lost power, they had sleeping bags ready.

“I think if this was much worse, we would definitely have seriously considered going to a shelter or to somebody else’s (place),” Wladis said, adding she felt the biggest risks were more likely to be “inconvenience, as long as you stay inside and don’t go wandering off in the storm.”

Police drove through the evacuation zone broadcasting warnings. “Please leave,” said one message, while another message warned that those who stayed were committing a “Class D misdemeanor.”

With a possible citation awaiting them after the storm, the Wladis-Rennie family said they intended to make the most of the experience of riding out a hurricane.

“As long as it doesn’t feel dangerous, it’s kind of fun and festive,” Wladis said as they headed back to their building after learning it would soon be locked down until the storm has abated. “Once the storm actually comes in, I’m sure we’ll feel differently.”