NEW YORK — A nor’easter blustered into New York and New Jersey on Wednesday, threatening to swamp homes all over again, plunge neighborhoods back into darkness and inflict more misery on tens of thousands of people still reeling from Superstorm Sandy.
Under ordinary circumstances, a storm of this sort wouldn’t be a big deal, but large swaths of the landscape were still an open wound, with many of Sandy’s victims still mucking out their homes and cars and shivering in the deepening cold.
Thousands of people in low-lying neighborhoods staggered by the superstorm just over a week ago were warned to clear out, with authorities saying rain, wet snow and 60 mph gusts in the evening could bring more flooding, topple trees wrenched loose by Sandy, and erase some of the hard-won progress made in restoring electricity to millions of customers.
“I am waiting for the locusts and pestilence next,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said. “We may take a setback in the next 24 hours.”
In New Jersey, public works crews worked to build up dunes along the shore to protect the stripped and battered coast, and new evacuations were ordered in a number of communities already emptied by Sandy. New shelters opened.
In New York, police went to low-lying neighborhoods with loudspeakers, encouraging residents to leave. But Mayor Michael Bloomberg didn’t order new evacuations, and many people stayed behind, some because they feared looting, others because they figured whatever happens couldn’t be any worse than what they have gone through already.
All construction in New York City was halted – a precaution that needed no explanation after a construction crane collapsed last week in Sandy’s high winds and dangled menacingly over the streets of Manhattan – and parks were closed because of the danger of falling trees. Drivers were advised to stay off the road after 5 p.m.
By early afternoon, the storm was bringing rain and wet snow to New York, New Jersey and the Philadelphia area. A couple of inches of snow were possible in New York City.
“We’re petrified,” said James Alexander, a resident of the hard-hit Rockaways section of Queens. “It’s like a sequel to a horror movie.” Nevertheless, he said he was staying to watch over his house and his neighbors.
During Sandy, stores and houses all around him burned to the ground. The boardwalk, flagpoles, light poles and benches were heaved down the block or washed out to sea. His own house was largely spared, except for blown-out windows, but his car was swamped.
“Here we are, nine days later – freezing, no electricity, no nothing, waiting for another storm,” Alexander said.