NEW YORK — Residents of New York and New Jersey who were flooded out by Superstorm Sandy waited with dread Wednesday and heard warnings to evacuate for the second time in two weeks as another, weaker storm spun toward them and threatened to inundate their homes again or simply leave them shivering in the dark for even longer.
"Everyone has major anxiety after what we just experienced a week ago," said Anthony Ferrante, whose house is less than a thousand feet from the Staten Island shoreline. "I think everybody's freaked out about what happened."
Ferrante was back at his house on Wednesday, waiting for an insurance adjustor. "But if it starts, I'm getting out of here," he said of the nor'easter.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered police to use their patrol car loudspeakers to warn vulnerable residents about evacuating, one of a number of measures that the beleaguered city was taking even as weather experts said Wednesday's nor'easter could be weaker than expected.
"Even though it's not anywhere near as strong as Sandy — nor strong enough, in normal times, for us to evacuate anybody — out of precaution and because of the changing physical circumstances, we are going to go to some small areas and ask those people to go to higher ground," Bloomberg said Tuesday.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency put a number to the storm's homeless in New York and New Jersey, saying 95,000 people were eligible for emergency housing assistance. In New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, more than 277,000 people have registered for general assistance, the agency said.
In New Jersey, winds were kicking up Wednesday morning and some battered shore communities were ordering mandatory evacuations for later in the day.
Atlantic County, in the southern part of New Jersey, activated its emergency operations center and told residents to restock their emergency supplies.
Officials were waiting for the first high tide around 1 p.m. to see if flooding would occur and also hoping the winds would not lead to more power outages.
"We have almost everyone who possibly can be reconnected back on. The idea we could now be facing power outages again does not come at a good time," county spokeswoman Linda Gilmore said.
Major airlines were scrapping flights in and out of the New York area ahead of the storm.
United, the world's largest airline, suspended most New York City service starting at noon American Airlines was shutting down in New York at 3 p.m. Wednesday, and was also stopping flights to and from Philadelphia at noon.
Most other airlines asked passengers to reschedule their Northeast flights for a later date.
While New York City officials strongly encouraged storm-ravaged communities to seek higher ground, some refused, choosing to stick close to the belongings they have left.
And weather experts had some relatively good news. As the storm moves up the Atlantic coast from Florida, it now is expected to veer farther offshore than earlier projections had indicated.
Storm surges along the coasts of New Jersey and New York are expected to reach perhaps 3 feet, only half to a third of what Hurricane Sandy caused last week. While that should produce only minor flooding, it will still likely cause some erosion problems along the Jersey coast and the shores of Long Island, where Sandy destroyed some protective dunes.
And it still carried the threat of wind gusts that could bring down tree limbs weakened by Sandy. High winds, which could reach 65 mph, could extend inland throughout the day, potentially stalling power restoration efforts or causing further outages.
"Our house is already in shambles. What worse can happen?" said a resigned and overwhelmed Lilly Wu.
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