BALLARAT expats and tourists are among millions bracing for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy in the north eastern United States.
Dubbed “Frankenstorm” by social media, the hurricane yesterday saw the mandatory evacuation of 375,000 people in low-lying areas of New York City and disruptions across the eastern seaboard.
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered the evacuations and shut down public transport across the city, as residents in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Washington, DC made last minute preparations for the storm.
The storm was expected to engulf New York on Monday morning and last into Tuesday, with meteorologists forecasting sustained winds of 75 km/h and regular gusts of over 100.
Up to 13cm of rain was expected to fall, but the big threat was a tidal surge which could be between 2.5 and four metres.
Former Ballarat resident Andrew Kelly described the pre-storm calm as “eerily quiet” in New York City yesterday.
“The weather is totally normal, but on the short walk through the Lower East Side (of Manhattan), the streets are empty and all but a few stores and bars are open,” he said.
“Most shops have their shutters down.. all of the subways stopped at 7pm and have been locked up.”
Mr Kelly said he had stocked up on food and water to wait out the storm and had charged batteries ahead of expected power outages.
The Courier reporter Melanie Whelan made preparations for the storm in Washington, DC, and said she was waiting to see if she could travel to New York on Tuesday.
“There are around 50 people in our group from Australia, the UK and New Zealand and some people have already had flights home cancelled,” she said.
“A lot of people are on the streets getting ready and it is already very wet outside so hopefully the damage isn’t too much.”
Tourists stuck in cities including New York may be forced to stay for three days, with airlines cancelling hundreds of flights and the prospects for departures remote.