As warnings mount over the impending catastrophic effects of Hurricane Sandy, most New Yorkers remain skeptical of its force, but still aren't taking any chances. The pulse of the city has slowed, but not ceased.
The latest reports paint a dismal picture for the East Coast in the coming days, with predictions of 90 mph winds, public transit closures, and life-threatening flood levels. A crane on a Midtown highrise has partially collapsed in the midst of rapidly increasing winds.
The storm is expected to make landfall in the city late Monday afternoon and while most New Yorkers who spoke to Metro admit they took some precautions, like stocking up on food and water, they also have a "believe it when I see it" attitude about Sandy.
"I just loaded up on batteries, flashlights and candles, bottled water, food that will last in case the electricity goes out, and other essentials, like chocolate and wine — I emphasize the latter," Will Reilly, of Sunnyside, Queens, told Metro.
Most attribute their skepticism to the much-hyped Hurricane Irene last year, which proved more bark than bite.
"Last year, Irene was expected to do much more damage than we actually got, so who knows?" Reilly added. "I guess the best thing is just to be prepared and expect the unexpected — I feel like it's the kind of thing you shouldn't get to crazy about until necessary."
"I honestly didn't do much prep because I'm from Florida, so I'm really blasé about it," Irina Gonzalez, a resident of Spanish Harlem, said. "I think people are panicking and freaking out. I appreciate being prepared because we can't really know what will happen, but I don't think it will be that bad at all."
Still, forecasters insist Hurricane Sandy is a much more powerful storm than Irene, already claiming 67 lives after it ripped through the Caribbean.
While most city businesses have shut their doors for the duration of the storm, several brave workers remain in the hopes of scooping up revenue from those still relying on restaurants and grocery stores. Eater reports swanky spots like Joseph Leonard plan to stay open all day and it's still business as usual at the neighborhood joint Waverly Diner.
Midday, some New Yorkers were venturing outdoors in the final moments of calm before the storm.
"I just took the dog out, but winds are kicking up," Upper West Side resident Tracy Kaler said. "People are out and about right now, but I expect that to stop when the storm really hits later today."
Most of the city's workers, though, have been ordered to remain inside or work from home, if possible. Thousands of people have filtered into the city's 73 shelters from Zone A, which covers mostly the outlying areas of Lower Manhattan, the western edges of Brooklyn and southernmost tip of Queens. Those in Zones B and C said they'll be keeping track of the storm, but don't expect to budge anytime soon.
"If I really, really had to, I guess I would but I'd rather not," Gonzalez said. "I have plenty of food and all that, and I figure if power does go out, Manhattan is the first place they'd fix anyway."