A woman and child walk through an aisle, emptied in preparation for Hurricane Sandy
Credits: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Manhattan sidewalks were littered with suitcases, babies were crying, police shouted evacuation orders through the loudspeakers of their vehicles and some stores were sold out of water.
The feeling of urgency was particularly noticeable in Battery Park, Manhattan's southernmost tip, which is part of the evacuation zone ordered by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Battery Park is home to many young families, and parents looked concerned as they filled cars with bags of groceries and suitcases Sunday afternoon.
The majority of families preferred not to take any risks. The Sandlers were one such family.
"We can't stay here if there is no electricity," said the father. "We don't have the choice. We have three kids and a dog."
He said the owner of the building in which his family lives warned tenants that the elevators would be shut down if Hurricane Sandy, the monster storm that is set to overtake the eastern coast of the U.S., flooded lower Manhattan.
The majority of businesses and buildings in the evacuation zone already had sandbags placed in front of their entrances by Sunday afternoon.
Sirens from emergency vehicles rang incessantly as area residents said goodbye to one another from across piles of suitcases.
"Be safe, buddy!" one neighbour said to another.
The highway on the city's west side was jammed with lines of vehicles waiting to exit the city, looking like a scene from an apocalypse movie.
In one Battery Park pharmacy, shelves that once stocked bottles of water and energy bars were empty. At a Whole Foods store, the cashier lines were long and people's baskets were often filled to the brim.
New Yorkers will awake Monday to a city paralyzed. The city of eight million people will be without its subway system, which was shut down in anticipation of the storm.
It's only the second time in New York's history that it has shut down its transportation system.
Public parks and schools were also closed and will remain so on Monday for more than a million students.
This is deja vu for New Yorkers: Hurricane Irene shut the city down in similar fashion in August 2011.
The city did not suffer that much from her winds and this time many who fled Irene have decided to stay.
Atilla Karasapan, an employee at City Bank, is one of them.
"Nothing happened with Irene and this time, I'm staying," she said. "I am ready."