Along the East Coast, residents are preparing for Hurricane Sandy to hit and merge with two other weather systems to create a fearsome storm. Here are their stories.
The remnants of Hurricane Irene spawned river flooding that laid waste to homes more than a year ago in Pompton Lakes, N.J., where some residents were already tossing belongings to the curb as Sandy approached.
Kevin Gogots, who has lived there since the 1980s, helped a woman put furniture and other belongings into a rented van Sunday to move them to higher ground.
"People are worst-case-scenario-ing it," Gogots said. "They're figuring, divide and conquer. They'll take the stuff they want to save and put the rest out. Of course, if the street floods again, we'll just have things floating around."
Across the street, Alex Zwick and his wife were staying put even with the memory of 4 feet of water in their first floor fresh in their minds.
"Everybody's a little gun-shy this time around," Zwick said. "People are still like, `We can't trust anybody' and are assuming the worst.'"
Jackson Grimes rode in a humble Wilmington Parks and Recreation shuttle bus to the American Red Cross shelter in New Castle, Del., but arrived in style, dressed in a navy blazer, striped purple bow tie and derby hat.
"You never know who you'll meet," Grimes said after a pizza dinner with about 30 other evacuees in the William Penn High School cafeteria.
Grimes arrived Sunday afternoon as drizzle turned to steady rain with occasional wind gusts. He said he would have stayed in his home, but his female boarder insisted on heeding the city's evacuation order for their neighborhood near the Delaware River.
"While there is a very grave concern in the back of my mind that I might lose my house," Grimes said, "being here will ease the distress to a certain degree because of the friendly people and the kind hospitality and the food."
New Yorkers who rely on the subway to get around ran out of luck by Sunday night when it shut down in anticipation of flooding. Instead, many decided to enjoy the down time.
David Marmanillo, 25, an actor who lives in the Astoria section of the New York City borough of Queens, rolled his luggage off a subway train in Times Square as he arrived home early from a visit with his family in upstate New York.
"I haven't seen my dad in a year, and I thought we'd watch football together, but it's not going to happen," he said, a wry smile widening into a grin as he added, "I'm going to stock up on beer, with friends."
Alyssa Marks clutched a pillow in her left hand and two laptop computers in her right as she rushed to beat the 7 p.m. subway closure Sunday. She lives in a high-rise but plans to stay with a friend in lower Manhattan during the storm.
"I'm nervous, but I'm also excited," she said. "We're going to get some wine, cuddle up and watch movies."
At a marina in the Penn's Landing section on the Delaware River in Philadelphia, where about 20 people live on houseboats, people helped one another secure lines but believed the floating dock and the condominiums on either side of the marina would help protect their vessels.
"We're going to be as safe here as we would be anywhere because we're going to be as high as the water gets, plus we've done the prep work," 62-year-old Howard Molt said.
Across the way, Hans Eriksson, 35, who lives on a houseboat with his wife and 19-month-old daughter, said they had spent 2 1/2 years sailing in the Caribbean so they feel they will be all right.
"If it starts looking dangerous, obviously we'll get off the boat," he said.
Contributing to this report were Dave Porter in Pompton Lakes, N.J.; David Dishneau in Delaware City, Del.; Verena Dobnik in New York City; and Maryclaire Dale in Philadelphia.